United fan Sam, 11, was invited to turn on the giant Christmas tree lights outside the Theatre of Dreams, with a special surprise appearance from first team favourites on stage with him.
Sam attends Manchester Creative and Media Academy in Blackley, a partner school of Manchester United Foundation, and was nominated by his Foundation coach to take part in the once-in-a-lifetime event, thanks to his dedication to his year 7 football team and being an inspiration to his peers.
Sam suffers from cerebral palsy but doesn’t let it stop him enjoying football with his friends, who joined him at the special event. He was the star of the show, giving an inspirational speech on stage, before being presented with a Manchester United shirt by the players. A delighted Sam commented on the evening:
“I’m really happy to switch on the Christmas tree lights; I love Manchester United and playing football with my friends at school. I play in goal and I think it’s important to never give up. My advice, to anybody who might have cerebral palsy like me, is to never give up and always be happy.”
Club officials and staff also joined the celebrations, which launched a full month of activity and special events before Christmas Day at Manchester United.
Group Managing Director and Foundation Chairman Richard Arnold added:
“Manchester United and the Foundation take pride in the work and achievements carried out across the region, making a huge difference to so many youngsters’ lives. It has been a pleasure to welcome Sam to Old Trafford for this great event and he represents all the great values that Manchester United Foundation strives towards.”
The Christmas tree light switch on at Old Trafford has become a club tradition in recent years and marks the start of a series of events and festive surprises for supporters which will be revealed throughout December.