A brave young Owls fan who has spent his life battling serious illness has been given ‘the chance of a lifetime’ to lead out the England football team at Wembley.
Connor Wright, from Woodseats, won a competition which will see him pull on the full England strip and act as a player escort when the national team takes on Moldova tomorrow.
The eight year-old pupil at Abbey Lane Primary School will travel down to London with mum Eilis, dad Paul, and little brother Cian, aged four.
Connor is a defender for Chesterfield FC under nines despite suffering cystic fibrosis, a lung condition which is kept under control by taking up to 15 tablets and having two hours of treatment each day.
He also has to have a two-week stay at Sheffield Children’s Hospital every year.
Connor, wo won the player escort place after entering a national competition via the McDonald’s Kickstart website, said: “It will be amazing to walk out with the England players at Wembley.”
He is looking forward to meeting idols including Ashley Cole, Theo Walcott, Steven Gerard and Daniel Sturridge, his family said.
Mum Eilis, a coach for Steel City Ladies FC, said: “He is very excited and we’re all going to be very proud to see him leading out the England team.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime for him - although who knows what could happen in another 10 years’ time if he does well with his football.”
She added: “Connor has been battling to cope with his condition all his life.
“There’s not many boys who would have to do two hours of treatment before and after going to school, and he has to take up to 15 tablets a day.
“But he still manages to do well at school - he’s one of the brightest boys - as well as playing competitive football.
“Playing keeps him fit and helps keep his lungs clear.
“We’re really delighted for him that he has won this opportunity.”
Gareth Staines, Connor’s coach with Chesterfield under 9s, said: He’s a lovely lad who plays his football with a smile and is my main man in defence.
“I’m sure he’s probably nervous to be leading out the England team - even I would be - but it’s a fantastic opportunity for him and I’m really pleased for him.”
The Kickstart website is run as part of McDonalds’ community programme with the FA, which aims to help grassroots football - offering support to 400,000 volunteers, 6,000 grassroots clubs and create a total of 30,000 qualified coaches by 2014.
1966 England World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst, who works on the Kickstart programme, had some words of wisdom for Connor as he prepares for his big day.
He said: “Walking out onto the pitch at Wembley Stadium is an unforgettable experience.
“The atmosphere will be electric, as it always is ahead of such an important match.
“The McDonald’s football programme is about creating opportunities for people to get involved in grassroots football and to give youngsters footballing opportunities they will never forget.
“Hopefully, this will be one of them.”