Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Celtic fanatic Jay given special taste of Paradise

Reaching out: Celtic boss Neil Lennon hands over his medal to Jay Beatty at Parkhead
Reaching out: Celtic boss Neil Lennon hands over his medal to Jay Beatty at Parkhead

Ten year old Lurgan boy Jay Beatty is a true champion and he has the medal to prove it. The huge Celtic fan, who has Down's Syndrome, received a very special memento from Celtic's title winning party at Parkhead last Sunday from Hoops boss Neil Lennon.

In emotional scenes after Celtic's 3-1 victory over Dundee United, former Northern Ireland star Lennon spotted Jay and his dad Martin in the 50,000 strong crowd, walked over and handed his medal to the kid from county Armagh.

It was a wonderful gesture and was quickly followed by Jay's favourite player Georgios Samaras carrying the youngster around the ground on the team's post match lap of honour to roars of appreciation from everyone in the stadium.

Samaras was holding Jay in his arms when conducting a television interview in which he called the young lad 'a friend and an inspiration'.

The scenes at 'Paradise' have become a YouTube sensation.

Proud dad Martin explained: "On Sunday we went to the game and sat in the front row of the North Stand.

"After the match Celtic lifted the Scottish Premiership trophy and did a lap of honour.

"I had Jay in my arms and suddenly Neil Lennon recognised Jay and waved.

"He was coming towards us and we thought he was just going to say hello and then his championship medal came off his neck and he gave it to Jay.

"We couldn't believe it. It was an incredible gesture.

"Then Samaras came across and lifted Jay out of my arms and walked him around the ground and said really kind things about Jay in a television interview when he was holding him.

"Later on Kris Commons handed Jay his football boots. We went to watch a match and all this happened.

"It was very humbling. Jay was just delighted. This week he was showing his school friends Neil's medal."

The loving relationship between Jay and Celtic has been going on for some time.

"Jay is 10 and has Down's Syndrome. He is Celtic daft. For as long as he's awake he will watch Celtic DVDs or look at Celtic magazines," says Martin, married to Aine.

They have another child, 15-year-old Olivia.

He added: "We can only get over to games though when the Celtic Lurgan No 1 football team, who are in the division two of the mid-Ulster League, aren't playing because Jay is mascot for them.

"He gives the team talks and although I'm maybe biased being his dad I think his speeches are very good.

"It's amazing watching a boy of 10 in front of 15 men telling them what they need to do.

"It has really brought his speech on and it's great to see everyone in the team treat him with such respect.

"Jay is besotted by Samaras and met him when Cliftonville played Celtic at Solitude in the Champions League last year.

"The day before the game at Solitude Jay was invited down to watch the team train.

"Neil Lennon came out and spotted Jay and allowed him to take the training session.

"I have to say Neil Lennon, Samaras and indeed all the team have been amazing to our son.

"We got a call one day to say that Neil was back home at his mum and dad's house in Lurgan and that he wanted to meet Jay, so we took him there which was incredible.

"He's also been on the team coach singing Celtic songs which have been captured on YouTube.

"He's become a bit of an internet star and the number of people that recognise him is crazy. He doesn't look at himself on the internet though... he'd prefer to watch Celtic v Ross County from five years ago!

"There is a big rivalry between Rangers and Celtic but lots of Rangers fans have told us it is wonderful to see Jay doing all this, which I think is fantastic.

"When Jay was born we didn't know how he was going to be treated, but the people of Lurgan from both sides have been wonderful.

"My wife runs a cross community charity called Downs and Proud for people in the Lurgan. Portadown and Craigavon areas and there is a great spirit around the place," added Martin.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre