A lucky youngster is set to walk out with the stars at a major fixture in the UEFA European Championship in France this week.
Football fanatic Bayley Hannan, 6, from Kirkham, has been announced as one of nine young fans who have been selected for the McDonald’s Player Escort programme this summer which gives them the opportunity to be at the heart of the home nation footballing action.
The Willows Catholic Primary School pupil will get to stand beside his national heroes and walk out at hotly-anticipated fixtures in the tournament - including England vs Wales on Thursday in Lens.
Mum Emma Hannan, 33, who entered Bayley in the competition, said it would be “something to remember for a long time.”
She said: “Bayley is so excited. He was really nervous about it at first but his confidence has built up and now he can’t wait to get there and meet everybody.
“And everybody else is buzzing for him – his friends, his family and even all the teachers at school.
“I’m so proud – it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we will talk about forever.
“The whole family is just as excited and I’m jealous I won’t be going with him.”
Bayley will be going to the championship in France, with his dad David, on Wednesday morning, ahead of the England match the following day.
And although he will actually be a mascot for Wales, he will get the opportunity to meet both teams.
“It will be great for them both,” Emma said. “His dad is like a child – he is bouncing from the walls.
“The fact he is going to see the Euros with his son, who is going on the pitch, is amazing for him.
“And it’s his birthday weekend too.”
Instead of going along with Bayley, Emma will be joining the rest of her friends and family in watching the match at a sports bar in Kirkham.
“I can’t wait to see him on TV – it will be such an embarrassing mum moment.”
As well as going out onto the pitch, the programme has a range of other activities lined up for the youngsters, including meeting a football guide, a treasure hunt and testing out the new UEFA EURO 2016 Fifa video game.
World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst, McDonald’s director of football, said: “Bayley will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something truly special, accompanying future legends of English football as they step out into some of the iconic grounds in European football.”
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, McDonald’s head of English football, added: “Nothing can compare to the rush of competing in front of your fans during an international tournament. It is a feeling you never forget as a player.
“England have an exciting squad of up-and-coming talent that will be competing in France this summer and that will only help to inspire the younger generation of fans watching at home.”
The McDonald’s Player Escort programme has provided thousands of children with the chance to stand beside football superstars since it began in 2002. More information can be found at the website at www.mcdonalds.co.uk/euro2016.