UPDATE – Unfortunately the timing wasn't right for Jay and his family who recieved the invitation as they were on the way to the airport to travel for their family summer holiday. So Jay won't be in Brazil for the Costa Rica match on Sunday but will still be rooting for 'Sammy' and the Greeks. Nevertheless the family say they were touched by the messages and 'fantastic' offer. Below is Jay's message to the Greeks and the Facebook post published by Martin Beatty, Jay's father:
The Facebook group ‘O Jay Paei Mundial’ (Jay Goes to the World Cup) is not even 24 hours old at the time of writing but it has already achieved its purpose.
The Hellenic Football Federation has invited to fly young Jay to Brazil (link in Greek) to watch Greece’a upcoming match in the knockout round against Costa Rica.
Following Samaras’s winning penalty that sent Greece to the final 16 of the World Cup for the first time in its history, there was renewed focus on the striker. This resulted in this video of Samaras carrying Jay onto the football pitch following Celtic’s league win, doing the rounds on social media:
Soon after this video of Jay was also zipping around Twitter and Facebook showing the avid fan dressed in blue and celebrating Samaras’s goal like a Greek:
Most of us who saw the videos, smiled warmly before going back to our routines. But fortunately there were a few who had the bright idea to set up a Facebook page asking that the EFF arrange for Jay to travel to Brazil to watch the Greece Costa Rica match and his hero Samaras up close.
The campaign immediately took off reaching 60,000 likes in about 20 hours, and the EFF kindly, and intelligently agreed to the request.
Upon learning of the initiative Georgios Samaras was thrilled and immediately threw his support behind the move. “It gives me goosebumps, it’s moving. This child who gives so much strength, who’s amazing. There are no words… I feel his love so much. The love that I feel some others in Greece feel. There is a Facebook page for him to come to Brazil? I am aware.. this morning with the talk we had with Mr Sarris we said if possible to arrange the tickets for him to come and see the match against Costa Rica… I hope everything goes well and he can make it to the match. We will contact the boy’s father and see… If we get the OK. Until we do that… I have a shirt here, which I’ll sign now and at dinner all the guys will sign it. It’s a small gift that we can give. We have a date in Belfast.”
When asked what message he would like to send Jay, Samaras said, “You give me great strength. Your laugh and support make me feel very strong. This shirt is for you. We want to give it to you. I am very proud that you are my friend. I hope to see you soon, buddy.”
So if all goes well hopefully Jay will be in the stands on Sunday. And who knows? Maybe he will bring us a little extra luck and may, with the rest of the team, get to hang around Brazil for a little while longer…