Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Coleraine boy Oliver Dickey on a high as he meets Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard

Oliver Dickey (middle) with brother Max and Rangers boss Steven Gerrard
Oliver Dickey (middle) with brother Max and Rangers boss Steven Gerrard
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A Northern Ireland boy who overcame the odds to walk has been left speechless after meeting his football hero Steven Gerrard.

Oliver Dickey met the ex-Liverpool captain, now manager of Rangers, in Glasgow on Sunday.

The 11-year-old from Coleraine had previously met former Gers boss Ally McCoist and the team while still using a wheelchair due to his cerebral palsy.

This time, though, he was able to walk into Ibrox stadium.

It is something doctors had previously thought impossible, before a fundraising drive helped to pay for specialist surgery in the US five years ago.

He is now able to walk using crutches and plays frame football for local team TW Braga.

His parents Charlene and Neil had joked with his football coach about setting up a meeting with Gerrard during their annual trip to Scotland and were stunned to get the call.

"Oliver's a massive football fan," his mum said.

"His teams are Coleraine, Northern Ireland, Liverpool and Rangers. He just breathes it.

"We showed the pictures to his coach of Oliver meeting Ally McCoist when he was still in his wheelchair and thought: 'Wouldn't it be great to be able to walk into Ibrox this time'."

Careful to avoid any disappointment, the parents kept tightlipped to Oliver and siblings Max (9) and Emily (3) about the surprise until the very last second.

"When we walked into the main door of Ibrox he knew something was up. The Rangers player Scott Arfield walked out and a couple of legends were about for photos," his mum said.

"We were then taken to a room and I just had my phone ready. Steven knocked on the door and I just thought: 'It's actually happening'.

"He spoke to Emily first and she ran away, she'll never live that down.

"Oliver's face just dropped and he didn't know what to think. Max went pure red.

"He chatted away to Oliver. He was so nice and wished him well in his therapy. He joked as well as Oliver had his Liverpool coat and Rangers scarf on.

"So he just said 'you're my kind of man'."

Left dumbstruck at meeting his sporting idol, mum Charlene said: "This is just the stuff of dreams. He hasn't come down to earth yet. He's sitting practising a paper for his transfer test and I don't think his head is with it."

As a special memento of the day, the former England skipper gifted the young fan a signed Rangers shirt to hang in his gym at home.

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