Viral footage of an inspirational little boy from Whitby practising his dribbling skills has captured hearts around the world – including that of Everton star Gerard Deulofeu.
Nine-year-old Blues fan George Shaw is determined his cerebral palsy won’t get in the way of him playing the sport he loves.
So much so, when the Whitby Heath Primary School pupil woke up on New Year’s Day, all he wanted was to go for a kick-about with his dad Dave, who filmed it and then posted the clip online.
But the family didn’t even have an inkling of the reaction the video would receive.
Millions of views and hundreds of messages from well-wishers around the world later, and Deulofeu has invited the youngster to Goodison Park to watch Everton take on Swansea City on Sunday (January 24).
Proud Dave explained that he captured George doing drills on the playing fields at The Groves Club because he likes to keep track of his son’s progress.
The heartwarming clip shows George score a goal and point to his replica away shirt bearing Deulofeu’s name and number.
At George’s request, Dave tweeted the video to the right winger with the message: “My son George, so determined to succeed, nothing will stop him.”
Deulofeu replied the following day, saying: “Never give up on your dream! #StayStrong.”
Dave told the Pioneer: “A lot of people have said he is an inspiration and he is.
“He’s my hero. He just never ceases to surprise me.
“He never moans and just gets on with it.
“I never expected this reaction, maybe just thought it would raise a bit of awareness of cerebral palsy.”
Dave said he would like to thank Deulofeu on George’s behalf for taking the time to reply and inviting him to Sunday’s game.
“I think the game has changed and I think players do have time for the fans now,” he said.
“Something like this is a special occasion for both of them.”
'He's in my heart'
Hailing ‘amazing’ George an ‘inspiration’, Deulofeu added: “To have my shirt on is special. He’s in my heart.”
George plays football for CP United FC every Saturday and attends the Wallasey-based Stock ‘n’ Step charity – which provides free specialist conductive education and support to children with cerebral palsy and their families across the North West – every Wednesday, which Dave says has helped him ‘a great deal’.