Family of tragic Liverpool fan meet his hero Gerrard
Bittersweet moment as star makes mum’s day
The mother of a 26-year-old Liverpool FC fan from Lisburn who took his own life last year says the moment her family met her son's hero Steven Gerrard at the weekend was "bittersweet" and one they will never forget.
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 partially 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, brothers Jordan and Jamie and his partner Nadine to meet him and watch his former team play at Anfield on Friday night.
"It was a very bittersweet moment," Alison said. "Steven was just great.
"He had a chauffeur collect us from where we were staying and bring us to meet him.
"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 Steven to sign that also.
"My husband Vernon was able to tell Steven personally about Robbie and about how much he meant to him since he was a young boy.
"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.
"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 Steven 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 Steven 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."
The meeting with the ex-Liverpool hero and current Rangers manager came about after Robbie's mum and dad sent out a social media plea for Gerrard to get in touch with them over their 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. A newspaper 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.
"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."