Cristiano Ronaldo has long been in the business of making dreams come true, with the Portuguese superstar delivering again for an 11-year-old Republic of Ireland supporter who chased him down after a World Cup qualifier in Dublin.
The Manchester United forward had endured a frustrating evening at the Aviva Stadium, with several big opportunities passing him by in a 0-0 draw, but his mood was light enough to wave security away after seeing a young pitch invader make a dramatic bid for his shirt.
Addison Whelan, who plays for Shelbourne FC’s U13 side and harbors dreams of one day turning professional, was the star-struck fan in question and is still coming to terms with the fact that she was able to share a postgame hug with her hero.
After the final whistle brought a goalless contest to a close, Whelan spotted an opportunity to meet Ronaldo and ask for his jersey, with pitchside barriers cleared before setting off after the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
She told RTE of her adventure: “There were security guards running behind me and coming from the other corner . . . I ran towards the halfway line but then they caught me. I was screaming Ronaldo’s name.”
Whelan went on to describe the moment as a “dream coming true.” with a prized memento captured from an all-time great.
The bigger picture
Ronaldo is used to being accosted by adoring members of the public, with his celebrity status extending far beyond the football field.
He has interacted with various pitch invaders down the years, with one even taking an on-pitch selfie with him during a Euro 2020 qualifier between Portugal and Lithuania in November 2019.
His latest show of affection for those who idolize him has created a special memory for one member of the Irish football fraternity, but plenty of others were left disappointed.
Ronaldo’s shirt was always going to be a prized possession at the end of a World Cup qualifying clash, with the race on to see who could get to him first.
Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu appeared to be particularly disappointed at missing out on the chance to put his claims to an iconic figure, with the 19-year-old Manchester City shot-stopper having kept out a Ronaldo penalty when facing the greatest international goal-scorer in the history of the men’s game back in September.