With the help of a few thousand Greek fans, national team star Georgios Samaras persuaded the Greek football association to fly his biggest fan, 11-year-old Jay Beatty from Armagh, to Brazil for the World Cup.
Samaras has played for the Scottish Premiere League Celtic team since 2008. Jay, who has Down syndrome, is a huge Celtic fan and got to meet Samaras in May, after the Glasgow team won the Scottish Premiership at Celtic Park.
The team’s manager, Neil Lennon, gave Jay the league medal, and Samaras scooped the young boy up and carried him onto the field in celebration.
For the World Cup, Jay has been cheering on Samaras and the Greek team. When Greek fans caught wind of this from a video Jay’s dad posted on Facebook, they began a massive online campaign to bring the Beattys to Brazil for the Greece v. Costa Rice game on Sunday.
A Greek Facebook page dedicated to Jay amassed 90,000 likes and gave the Greek football association the nudge to extend an official invitation. This is the farthest the Greek team has ever advanced in the World Cup, and fans wanted Jay to be there.
In a press conference yesterday, Samaras gave a touching thank-you to Beatty for the strength and support he gives the Greek team:
Unfortunately, the Beattys received the call right as they were at the airport about to depart for a family holiday and had to decline.
But Jay recorded a message of encouragement for Samaras and the Greek team and will be cheering them on this Sunday: