Football-mad Matt, six, meets heroes as vital operation looms

FOOTBALL CRAZY: Matt Townrow with Nemanja Vidic.
FOOTBALL CRAZY: Matt Townrow with Nemanja Vidic.

The dreams of a six-year-old boy from Long Melford came true when he got the chance to meet the stars from his favourite football team.

Matt Townrow, from Clopton Drive, visited Manchester United’s training ground with his mother Lisa on Monday and came face to face with his idol, Wayne Rooney, along with a host of the club’s other top players and their manager David Moyes.

The trip came just weeks before Matt, who has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair and walking frame to get about, is due to undergo potentially life-changing surgery.

“We went to Manchester on Sunday night and watched the team train at Carrington the next day,” said Lisa.

“Then we got to meet the players and Matt loved it. Wayne Rooney is his favourite player and he had his picture taken with him.

“They were all really nice and it is something he will never forget.”

As part of the trip, organised by the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity, which grants wishes to seriously ill children, Matt also watched United take on Norwich in the League Cup on Tuesday night.

Lisa said the treat came just in time as Matt, who goes to Long Melford Primary School and a special school in Ipswich, is preparing for a spinal operation at Bristol Hospital on November 12.

The surgery will ease the stiffness caused by his condition, but as no NHS funding was available, has only been made possible by fundraising, with the family reaching their £25,000 target in just four months.

“He could potentially walk a short distance unaided and it could have an enormous affect on his life,” said Lisa. “It could also prevent further operations, but we are not looking too far ahead and there will be lots of physio afterwards.”