By Gary Ferry
For the majority in attendance, Tuesday night in Celtic Park was a forgettable experience, but not for young Derry lad Fionn Concannon, who had the time of his life.
Whilst Celtic suffered their heaviest home defeat in European football, the Foyle Harps youngster watched on with awe as the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Edison Cavani and the world’s most expensive footballer Neymar strutted their stuff in front of a sold-out crowd of over 60,000 fans.
But that is only part of the story as a star-struck Fionn actually lined up with French international Layvin Kurzawa at the start of the game, having won the chance to be a mascot for the game thanks to a competition run by Mastercard.
A delighted Fionn and his family made his way to Glasgow on Tuesday morning not knowing what to expect, but unbeknownst to him, he was in for the time of his life at Celtic Park.
Fionn’s mother Pat was a bundle of nerves as she looked out for her son, but she needn’t have worried, with the 8-year-old Foyle Harps youngster having the time of his life.
“It was an amazing night. He is so small, but he was standing six foot tall with pride,” she told the Derry News. “He got to sit beside Neymar and he got a high five with Mbappe and the other players so I don’t think he’ll wash his hand ever again. It was just an amazing experience and they were so good to him. He gets to keep his kit and everything. It was so well organised and he’ll never forget it.”
It was Fionn’s mother who entered her son into the ‘Mastercard Priceless Mascot experience’, but she never expected to hear anything afterwards. But it all became a blur after she received a phone call from Mastercard last Monday.
“Hundreds of thousands of people would have applied for this and he was selected. They rang me last Monday and I thought they were taking the hand,” she laughed. “He headed of from City of Derry on Tuesday with his daddy and his brother and his uncle and cousin.
“He was the smallest there. Whenever the cameras came across all you could see was the top of his head. I didn’t see him coming out at first and I was panicking but when I rewinded it back I saw him coming out then and when I seen the photographs afterwards, I saw that he had an absolute ball. He was living his daddy’s childhood dream. It was amazing and it was really once in a lifetime experience.”
Fionn will return to training with Foyle Harps at Leafair tomorrow night, with plenty of tales to tell his team mates. The young defender may have to watch his step though, no doubt still walking on air from his Champions League experience.
“We call him ‘Fionn-aldo’ because just loves football and he’s Ronaldo mad,” Pat continued. “It’s his dream to become a footballer. He’s Arsenal-mad so his next aim now is to be on the pitch with Arsenal.
“It didn’t matter that Celtic got beat because the atmosphere at Celtic Park from the Celtic fans was just amazing and he got to see Neymar and Mbappe and all them scoring goals, which was amazing.
“The atmosphere was absolutely electric. They made such a fuss of Fionn and it was just a once in a lifetime experience.”
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