My head is gonna burst, says mascot Daniel (8)
A brave boy who recently lost his beloved football-mad grandfather to cancer had his dream come true after being named an official mascot for the Boys in Green at last night's World Cup qualifier match at the Aviva Stadium.
Daniel Bracken (8), a third-year pupil at Rolestown National School, in Swords, Dublin, was selected for the honour after a letter sent by his aunt Debbie was read out on a radio show on Friday. Her letter revealed that Daniel's grandfather Gerry died of cancer two years ago, which the little boy took very hard.
Then he learned the devastating news his mum Karen was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer last year.
Daniel sounded like a seasoned pro when he appeared on RTÉ Radio's 'Ray D'Arcy Show' yesterday to give his take on how the crunch match was going to play out.
"We're going to let Denmark attack a little bit and we're gonna stay in defensive, and then they might get a bit tired, and then Ireland are gonna make their attack and then we've a better chance of scoring," said the ring winger for Swords Manor football club.
Despite being so nervous that he had hiccups on the way to the studio, Daniel's enthusiasm won out in the end.
"When I come back in from holding the players hands and singing the Irish anthem, my head's gonna burst," he said.
He was also anticipating ear-splitting cheers from the Green Army.
"My ears might fall off," he predicted, after being given a signed jersey ahead of the match that he watched with his proud parents Karen and Philip.
The letter revealed how Daniel has been incredibly brave.
"His little world has changed and he has never once complained. He has thrown himself into one of his granddad's passions, football. He plays it, watches it, and collects Match Attax, and talks about it non-stop," Debbie wrote.
"His mammy has been in hospital for the last two weeks very ill, and Daniel has been amazing to her and us.
"Giving her his favourite teddy, non-stop cuddles and basically just been an amazing boy. He makes us laugh all the time and reminds us so much of dad. His granddad would be so proud.
"I would love if he could be a mascot for Ireland on Tuesday night for the match against Denmark.
"I know this would be the most amazing thing to happen to him and my sister would be so proud."
Staff for Irish squad sponsors, mobile operator Three, heard the broadcast, and made him a mascot.