Belfast Telegraph

Family of Lisburn Liverpool FC fan who took his own life on 'bitter sweet' meeting with Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard and Jack Fleming
Steven Gerrard and Jack Fleming
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

The mother of a Lisburn Liverpool FC fan who took his own life last year says the moment her family met her son’s hero Steven Gerrard at the weekend was "bitter sweet" and one they will never forget.

Twenty-six-year-old pizza chef Robbie Fleming’s dream was always for himself and his nine-year-old son Jack to meet the Liverpool legend.

His mum Alison says that after her son’s death last June she was determined to part fulfil that wish and at the weekend her dream came true when the Liverpool legend brought Robbie’s son Jack, his mum Alison, dad Vernon, his brothers Jordan and Jamie and his partner Nadine to meet him and watch his heroes play at Anfield on Friday night.

“It was a very bittersweet moment,” she told the Belfast Telegraph. “Steven was just great. He had a chauffeur collect us from where we were staying and bring us to meet him.

Jack Fleming with his teddy bear named after his late father, Robbie
Jack Fleming with his teddy bear named after his late father, Robbie

“He signed our precious boy’s jacket and photos of Robbie and his little Jack together. When Robbie passed away Jack got a Build-a-Bear and named him Robbie, after his dad. He got a Liverpool kit put on it. Jack brought the bear with him and got Stevie to sign that also.

“My husband Vernon was able to tell Stevie personally about Robbie and about how much he meant to him since he was a young boy. Vernon just wanted to do something that our son would be proud of.

“He posed for plenty of photographs with us and just chatted. He was so down to earth, we talked like we had known each other for years. He was such a gentleman.

Steven Gerrard with Vernon, Jordan and Jamie
Steven Gerrard with Vernon, Jordan and Jamie

“It was an emotional moment, really bittersweet. I tried to hold back my tears but I just cried. As we were standing there all I could think of was how happy Robbie would have been to have been there too with us.

“I’m just happy that we were able to let Stevie know how great a person our boy was. It was lovely to meet him in Robbie’s memory.

“Me and my husband Vernon did everything in our power to make our son known to his hero. It was always his dream to meet Stephen and by introducing little Jack and Robbie’s brothers Jordan and Jamie to him they are living his dream in his memory. We never gave up until we got this for our son. We were a very close family. We did everything together.”

The meeting with the Liverpool hero came about after Robbie’s Mum and Dad sent out a social media plea for Steven Gerrard to get in touch with them over their LFC-mad son. After an article in a Liverpool newspaper, Steven reached out and made contact with them in July.

“Robbie was an absolute Liverpool FC fanatic,” she said. “His hero was Steven Gerrard. After Robbie died I took to social media to see if I could get in contact with him. A newspaper in Liverpool picked up the story and Steven called me.

“I was just crying. He said that he was very touched by my story and asked for my telephone number and he said he wanted to personally give his condolences to me. He then Facebooked Jack. It was great. And to meet him now has been just lovely.

“It was a really beautiful experience, one we most certainly will never forget. We tried so hard to make this happen and I know our Robbie was looking down on us.”

If you, or anyone close to you, is affected by any issues in this story, contact the Samaritans free on 116 123 or Lifeline on 080 8808 8000.

Robbie's family with Steven Gerrard
Robbie's family with Steven Gerrard

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