"She hasn't stopped smiling" - Classy James McClean makes young girl's dream come true
Published 06/11/2015 | 08:21
He may be a Premier League bad boy to some, but to little Kaylee Browne, James McClean is a hero.
The five-year-old was born with spina bifida, meaning that going outside for a bike ride seemed an impossible dream.
But now, thanks to the generosity of the Derry-footballer, Kaylee is looking forward to getting out and about with her cousins this weekend.
The controversial West Brom and Republic of Ireland star offered to pay the £1,500 needed to make Kaylee's dream come true after reading about her plight on Facebook.
Afterwards, the little girl, who is also from Derry and who is paralysed from the waist down, was presented with a specially-adapted tricycle that she can power with her arms.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Kaylee's mother Laura said her daughter had not stopped smiling since getting her trike.
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"She is such a good wee girl, but she is getting to the age that she wants to be outside, and she wanted a bicycle," explained Laura.
"Obviously, an everyday one wouldn't suit her - but a specialist one was beyond my reach as a single parent."
Laura set up a charity page to raise funds and, almost immediately, 26-year-old McClean contacted her and told her he would take care of it. He posted: "That £1,500 for the bike, I'll pay it." Laura said she was "completely overwhelmed". "It was such a generous thing for him to do, and he has made both Kaylee and me so happy," she added.
"I found out about John Preston, a company in Lurgan that makes specialist bikes for children like Kaylee, and one of their team, Gary Allen, actually came to the hospital and measured Kaylee for a trike. He could not have been any nicer.
"Kaylee got her trike on Wednesday and she has had a huge smile on her face ever since.
"We took her around all our family to show everyone and her two cousins, Ava and Corey, have promised to call on Saturday with their bikes to take Kaylee out. It is like a dream come true."
McClean, who opted to play for the Republic after playing at junior level for Northern Ireland, is no stranger to negative publicity.
The Creggan man is a regular target of abuse at Premier League grounds every week, having refused to recognise the England flag before a pre-season friendly. He has also angered fans by refusing to wear a Remembrance Day poppy.