An 11-year-old footballer who had to have his leg amputated when he was 14 months old has fulfilled many youngster’s dreams after having a kick-about with his England football heroes.
Rio Woolf (pictured far right), from Bushey Heath, has been playing for the England Amputee Football Association Juniors since he was seven and met England captain Harry Kane and teammates Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford in November all thanks to BBC’s Children in Need.
The young footballer was born with a rare condition meaning he was missing his tibia, knee and ankle joint, and had to have his lower right leg amputated.
Speaking about the day, Rio said: “I was speechless when Kane, Rashford and Sterling suddenly appeared behind us on the indoor pitch at St George’s Park – it was the biggest surprise of my life to meet my England heroes.”
Rio and his teammates thought they were just doing some filming for the Children in Need programme but were surprised when TV personality Mark Wright arrived in the England team coach to take them on a tour of nearby St George’s Park.
After showing Mark their skills, they were then surprised by the England forwards and even had the chance to have a kick-about with them.
Rio said: “We had just been saying to Mark when we were on the coach how we can win the Euros with Kane, Sterling and Rashford upfront.
“And then we had a kick-about and I even nutmegged Sterling. It was great that they tried to play football on crutches like we do. It was really fun to watch them take penalties and was such an amazing experience – definitely the best day ever.”
Getting his teeth into football has boosted Rio’s confidence and has allowed him to represent his country at a junior level all over Europe including Italy, Ireland and Poland.
Not only has football improved his football skills but has also made him meet some great friends who are facing the same challenges as him and share his passion for the game.
After documenting his experience on social media, Rashford replied to the youngster which made Rio even happier.
Rio added: “I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Harry, Marcus and Raheem for giving up their time to meet us, and to everyone who donated to Children in Need.”
A video, which can be found on the national team’s official Twitter page, showing the teams experience, has inspired some new footballers to join Rio’s team.
For more information on EAFA, parents/guardians should contact the EAFA head coach, Owen Coyle Junior on firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of BBC