ATHENS – A 10-year-old Irish fan of Greek striker Georgios Samaras who captured attention with his delight over the player during the World Cup was honored along with him Dec. 15 by the Greek Sports Journalists’ Association, which honored outstanding achievements in sports in a gala in Athens.
Jay Beatty, who has Down’s syndrome, became a fan of Samaras when the Greek soccer star was playing for Celtic – the boy’s favorite team. They became media sensations when Samaras picked him up from the crowd when the Glasgow team lifted the Scottish Premiership trophy in May.
Fans of both laughed a social media campaign to try to get the boy to the World Cup in Brazil but the dates clashed with a family holiday and he couldn’t accept an invitation from the Greek Soccer Federation.
Jay’s father, however, posted a video showing the young boy in a Greece jersey and celebrating the team’s victory over Ivory Coast which went viral.
Samaras was awarded for his “contribution to sports and his ethos” at the event held at the Peace and Friendship Stadium. The award was for “the message of humanity and sensitivity which they sent worldwide.”
“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,” Martin Beatty, the boy’s father, was quoted by the Belfast Telegraph as saying prior to the trip to Greece. “It’s hard to believe that a wee 10-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome will be flying to Athens to receive this.”
Wee Jay celebrates his 11th birthday on December 23.