Belfast Telegraph

Home News

Football-mad cancer sufferer Zakky creates own mini-fanzone in the comfort of his back garden

By Angela Rainey

A young cancer sufferer too ill to travel to France has brought the Euros to east Belfast with a mini-fanzone created in the comfort of his back garden.

Northern Ireland supporter Zakky Brennan from Tullycarnet in Dundonald will cheer on the Green and White Army surrounded by family and friends from his very own miniature football pitch, complete with bunting and flags, while proudly donning the all-important green and navy strip.

The three-year-old who is "football mad" was diagnosed with neuroblastoma a week before his third birthday last year and ever since has undergone a series of harsh treatments including surgery to remove 95% of the tumour on his right kidney.

He has also had chemotherapy, 14 sessions of radiotherapy, a stem cell transplant and is now undergoing six months of immunotherapy, so is not yet able to mix fully with other children until his immune system strengthens.

The gruelling treatment also meant that Zakky was too ill to travel to the Euros with his parents, diehard Northern Ireland supporters Leeanne (31) and Gareth (32) and baby sister Amelia.

Instead of missing out Gareth came up with a spur of the moment plan that has the young fan gripped by Euro fever.

"If Zakky had been well, we would have gone to France," Gareth said.

"Leeanne would have had a little holiday and me and Zakky would be watching the matches, but it wasn't to be because of his treatment.

"Zakky will be going into the Royal Hospital for Sick Children on June 28 for 10 days so we have to be careful because his treatment means that Zakky cannot be around people with colds and such things as his immunity is low and it can be dangerous, but he loves football - he randomly sings Green and White Army all the time and is always playing football or talking about it.

"So we were out playing football in the back garden and Zakky said about putting up the flags, so we did. Then I came across a bit of masking tape while Leeanne was out shopping.

"Zakky took one end of it and the next thing one line led to another line and before we knew it we had created a mini football pitch."

"He absolutely loves it.

"Zakky has his own little playhouse complete with TV and pitch as his fanzone and we'll be sat out there, weather permitting, to watch the Euros.

"Family will be round, we might have a BBQ and we'll all be watching the matches and having a bit of craic.

"He's a real man's man so he'll be sat with the boys as we cheer on Northern Ireland to win."

Since Zakky's diagnosis the east Belfast community has been rallying round to fundraise for additional treatment he might need in America next year if his treatment options here are exhausted.

His progress is charted on his Facebook page, Zakky Brennan's Journey. To make a donation text 'ZAKY88 £3' to 70070 or visit

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph