“I’m only nine years old and this happening to me - it is the best day of my life!”
Shia got the surprise of his life this month.
He had travelled the short distance from St Alphonsus RC Primary School, in Stretford, to Manchester United’s Aon Training Ground as one of several children from schools who work with the Manchester United Foundation.
Shia is a United fan and a participant in the Foundation’s disability awareness programme.
Thanks to sessions with the club's foundation, he has made incredible progress, with his confidence and self-esteem noticeably improving.
He and the other pupils thought that the visit to the training ground was for a leadership and training session with some Foundation coaches.
Little did they know that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would interrupt their session to meet them and hand out gifts.
“I can’t believe I’m at Carrington at the first-team training ground and I’ve met Zlatan and he gave me FIFA 18 – I just can’t believe it!” Shia, pictured above with his hero, said.
Kelly was there because she was nominated by Manchester Creative and Media Academy for her hard work and dedication at school. She is also a ball assistant at Old Trafford, but had never met a player face-to-face.
"I love being a ball girl, and I’m used to seeing the players on the pitch, but Zlatan is my favourite player and I’ve never got to meet him properly before, so it was exciting – I’m still shaking!” she said.
Speaking about the visit, Foundation primary schools manager Jennifer Mildenhall said: “This is so inspirational to these children. The schools that we work in are fantastic with the pupils, but being able to offer them something extra will make it such a special Christmas for them.”