A 10-year-old Irish fan of Greek striker Georgios Samaras was in Athens on Monday at the invitation of the Greek Sports Journalists’ Association, which honored outstanding achievements in sports in a gala in Athens.
Jay Beatty, who has Down’s syndrome, became a fan of the West Bromwich Albion winger when he was playing for Celtic – the boy’s favorite team – gaining the limelight after Samaras picked him up from the crowd when the Glasgow team lifted the Scottish Premiership trophy in May.
He also became a local Internet and social media sensation after a campaign was launched to raise money to get him to Brazil to see Samaras play for Greece at the World Cup. While the money was raised and an invitation extended by the Greek Soccer Federation, the dates clashed with a planned family holiday.
Jay’s father, however, posted a video showing the young boy in a Greece jersey and celebrating the team’s victory over Ivory Coast which went viral.
Samaras was awarded for his “contribution to sports and his ethos” on Monday by the Greek Sports Journalists’ Association at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Athens’s southern coast for the bond he has formed with “Wee Jay.”
In its invitation, the union said the award is for “the message of humanity and sensitivity which they sent worldwide.”
“This event is being televised live to the Greek nation and Jay will be receiving an award on the night along with his hero Samaras,” Martin Beatty, the boy’s father, was quoted by the Belfast Telegraph as saying prior to the trip to Greece. “It’s hard to believe that a wee 10-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome will be flying to Athens to receive this.”
“Wee Jay” celebrates his 11th birthday on December 23.