Monday 10 December 2018

Young Irish Celtic fan Jay Beatty (10) honoured at star-studded awards in Greece

Jay with football star Georgios Samaras
Jay with football star Georgios Samaras

Nevin Farrell

Irish youngster Jay Beatty is to follow in the footsteps of internationally-renowned soccer stars like Eusebio by being honoured at a star-studded ceremony in the Greek capital of Athens.

The 10-year-old Celtic fan from Co Armagh was catapulted into the limelight earlier this year when Greek international and then Celtic player Georgios Samaras celebrated with him after the Glasgow giants won the Scottish league last season.

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon also gave Jay his league winners' medal.

Then Jay - who has Down's syndrome and will celebrate his 11th birthday on December 23 - became an internet sensation when social media sites showed him cheering on Samaras with Greece during the World Cup in the summer.

Samaras said earlier this year: "This boy gives me so much strength, it's incredible. There are no words. I feel his love so much. This love I feel, is also felt by many people in Greece."

Young Jay was invited to go to the World Cup in Brazil to cheer on Samaras and Greece, but the invite clashed with a family holiday and he was forced to cancel.

However, the youngster sent a message to his hero: "Hi Sammy, I hope you win the World Cup. Sammy, I'm sorry I won't be there but I still love you very much. C'mon Sammy."

A whirlwind few days for Jay nearly got off to a bad start at the weekend when his flight to Glasgow to see his heroes Celtic was cancelled but he was able to get fixed up with another airline.

And fresh from leading out the team at Celtic Park on Sunday ahead of a 4-1 win against St Mirren, Jay and dad Martin made a dash for the Greek capital of Athens where Jay will be honoured by the Greek Sports Journalists' Association today.

In a letter to Martin Beatty, the association said: "This year our association has decided to honour the friendship between your son Jay and George Samaras, for the message of humanity and sensitivity which they sent worldwide."

Martin Beatty said: "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. It's hard to believe that a wee 10-year-old boy with Down's syndrome will be flying to Athens to receive this."

Also at the weekend, the Irish League's top goalscorer Joe Gormley unveiled a tribute to Jay. After scoring a hat-trick for Cliftonville he lifted his jersey to show a t-shirt underneath with a photo of 'Wee Jay' dedicating the goal to him.

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