Kind coaches get a big kick from their surprise award

Andy Smith from Little Kickers, Susie Ingram and daughter Bonnie, former footballer Fabrice Muamba and Jake Pugh, from Little Kickers
Andy Smith from Little Kickers, Susie Ingram and daughter Bonnie, former footballer Fabrice Muamba and Jake Pugh, from Little Kickers

Two children’s football coaches had a real surprise when they were visited by former Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba.

Andy Smith and Jake Pugh, who both live in Chorley, were nominated for the surprise by Susie Ingram, whose two-year-old daughter Bonnie attends their Little Kickers football sessions.

Susie highlighted the coaches in a tweet as part of a campaign by retailer Boots, which is celebrating the people who are #SpecialBecause this Christmas.

She said: “I saw the Boots UK #SpecialBecause and instantly thought of Andy and Jake. They really go above and beyond to bring fun and bags of enthusiasm to the Saturday sessions.

“I was so surprised and really touched when Boots UK chose to help us say a really personal thank you.

“This is the perfect way to make them both realise just how special they are.”

They were rewarded with a visit by former Bolton player Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the pitch and suffered a cardiac arrest against Tottenham Hotspurs in 2012.

Fabrice and a film crew walked into a Little Kickers session at Bolton Arena to present Andy and Jake with their award.

Andy, 37, of The Cedars, Eaves Green, said: “It was a complete shock. I had no idea what was going on. It’s was amazing.”

Farbrice also joined the football session with the children, aged between 18 months and two years, and spent time talking to their parents.

Andy, who also runs Little Kickers sessions in Chorley, Euxton and Whittle-le-Woods, said: “Fabrice was lovely. It was great to meet him.

“He was a really nice guy and had a lot of time for the kids, posing for pictures and chatting with parents.

“He was really nice and down to earth.”

Jake, 23, who is the assistant coach, said: “When the children walked in and presented us with a personalised award, we felt so surprised and overwhelmed.

“The nomination from Susie has really touched us. We love teaching the Little Kickers every week.

“I’ve always wanted to meet Fabrice but have never had the chance to and Boots UK has made that dream come true.”