A lucky Leeds United fan who can “talk for England” will represent his country today as he proudly walks out with the national team at Elland Road.
Knottingley boy Nathan Townend, 10, was “screaming and jumping up and down” after he was invited to be a mascot at the England and Costa Rica clash tonight.
The Glasshoughton Welfare goal-scorer and his step-dad, Colin Metcalfe, 33, are Leeds United season ticket holders – and got a surprise call this week asking whether he wanted to take up the honour.
Mum Lisa, 30, of Eastfield Road, said: “He eats, lives and breathes football. “When he found out he was screaming and jumping up and down. He was saying, ‘Who am I going to walk out with? I hope it’s Jamie Vardy, I hope it’s Dele Alli’.
“I feel sorry for the players because I don’t know if he will be too star-struck to speak with them or whether he’ll speak too much!”
Usually, she said, he can “talk for England”. But she added: “Colin’s more excited than Nathan – he wishes he was 10 years old again and walking out on to the pitch, believe me.”
As an Elland Road regular with a seat near the tunnel, England Lane Academy pupil Nathan already has all the Leeds United player autographs.
He once saw United’s Kemar Roofe wearing what he thought were a “special” pair of gloves, and the attacker gifted them to the youngster at the next match after being tweeted by Colin.
Earlier this year, Nathan and his half-brother Dylan were sat behind the goal at Wembley when Jamie Vardy scored against Italy in the friendly fixture which finished 1-1.
England and Costa Rica kick off at 8pm, after which the team will go on to play Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in Group G during the World Cup from June 18.
The youngster, who was top scorer at his own club last year, had a ticket for tonight’s Elland Road contest anyway – but those seats will now go to family as Lisa, Colin and Nathan are hosted at the stadium.
Normanton factory worker Colin said: “I’m over the moon. I am quite jealous – I’ve always been into football, all my life.
“I’m buzzing for him. We go to every game. This is England – these are the people he aspires to be one day.
“It’s something that will stay with him for the rest of his life.”
Ten-year-old Nathan spoke about his delight at being picked as a mascot. He said: “I’m excited about going on to the pitch.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever got to walk out with the players.
“[My favourite England player is] Jamie Vardy. I just think he’s a really good player, I think he’s fast and an all round a good player.
“I think it will be 3-1 to England, I think they’re a really strong side.
“It will be a good game for them.”