Video: Amputee football fan recalls the "best day of his life" when he played alongside Man City FC

20th Dec 18 | Real Life

Idris Sherifi lost a leg to a rare and dangerous bone cancer, but was overjoyed to finally play some football with his heroes.

PA Real Life - Idris Sherifi - Make A Wish

A soccer mad youngster who lost a leg to cancer has never stopped talking about the “best day of his life” when his lifelong wish to meet  his sporting heroes from Manchester City Football Club was granted.

Just four when he was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma – an aggressive form of bone cancer most common in children –  despite having a below-the-knee amputation a year later, Idris Sherifi came back fighting, joining Manchester City FC Amputees as a striker in 2013.

This go-getting spirit was what persuaded members of his amputee squad to team up with his dad, Ahmed, 45, and approach the Make-A-Wish UK charity, to see if they could make his dream of meeting the players from the club’s main premier league side come true.

Now Ahmed, 45,  a shopkeeper, from Manchester, says Idris, 12, who met his heroes in May 2017, is keen for people to support the charity’s festive pyjamas fundraising campaign, to make it possible for more sick children’s wishes to be granted, saying: “When Idris met Man City, he was beyond happy.

“He says meeting the players was the best day of his life. It was his greatest wish come true.

“Now he really wants other sick children to have their wishes granted, like he did.”

Idris with his favorite player Sergio Aguero (PA Real Life/Manchester City)

Idris’ problems began after his stay-at-home mum, Zakira, 33, found a lump in his right leg in 2010, after he said he felt unwell and regularly woke up crying and screaming with pain.

She explained: “At first, we found a lump in his leg which we got checked out by the GP. I tried to stay calm and convince myself it wouldn’t be anything serious.

“But we were referred to a specialist at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and just two weeks later, we found out it was a tumour. I was in tears when we discovered it was a serious form of cancer.”

Idris, far left, with brothers Yusuf and Essia (PA Real Life/Collect)

Ewing sarcoma, which affects mostly boys between the ages of 10 and 20, can spread to other parts of the body quite quickly, according to the NHS.

Terrified that his life was over, Idris’ devoted parents, who also have two other boys, Essia, 10, and Yusuf, seven, recalled how, during months of treatment at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, their son’s main concern was not being able to play football.

His dad recalled: “Idris wasn’t aware at all of what was going on, he was too young.”

Idris in hospital during treatment (PA Real Life/Collect)

He continued: “He was confused and upset by the chemotherapy, which he started the same week he was diagnosed – having eight courses in total – and by the constant hospital visits. It took away all his play time and robbed him of a normal childhood.”

Then in 2011 the family received the terrible news that the cancer had spread to 25 per cent of the then five-year-old boy’s right leg, leaving surgeons with no viable option apart from a below-the-knee amputation.

Ahmed recalled: “He had rotationplasty – a type of autograft where a portion of a limb is removed, while the remaining limb below is rotated and reattached- to help his mobility, so he can still ride a bike and walk fairly well.”

He explained: “He now has a prosthetic limb to make up for the missing part of his leg, meaning he does everything slower than a normal child. He walks slower, runs slower, plays slower, but he isn’t afraid of anything. He takes everything head on.

“He hops around the house on one leg. He’s incredibly brave.”

Ahmed remains endlessly impressed by his boy’s positive outlook and sense of humour in the face of adversity.

Idris in hospital during treatment (PA Real Life/Collect)

He said: “The good thing about him is that he doesn’t see himself as a failure. He makes us laugh and continues life in his own way.

“If he was upset it would be so much harder, but because he has a sense of humour it makes it easier. He makes jokes about his prosthetic leg and dances with it in front of us.”

It was this positivity that attracted the attention of football trainers at Man City FC Amputees.

Idris’ parents, Ahmed and Zakira (PA Real Life/Collect)

They contacted Make-A-Wish with Ahmed, to set up a meeting with Idris and his footballing idols  – echoing the recent Coronation Street storyline in which young amputee Jack Webster meets and befriends local football star Tommy Orpington.

After remarking on his refusal to miss a single Man City match on TV,  Make-A-Wish agreed to help the Sherifi family, offering Idris –  who has now been cancer free for five years, but still has quarterly chest  x rays as a precaution – a once in a lifetime opportunity, deciding to surprise the lad at his school.

During an assembly, they piled into his school hall dressed as the Man City mascot, Moonchester – wearing his comically large blue outfit – and played a very special recording of the team’s players addressing Idris, personally, telling him they would be meeting him two weeks later.

Idris in hospital during treatment (PA Real Life/Collect)

Ahmed said: “They did it in front of all his classmates – he was so shocked!

“We finally met the players on 2nd May 2017 at their Etihad Stadium in Manchester. Idris and I went together. He got to have a little kick about with the players and show off his own skills.

“We could never forget the date as Idris never stops talking about it. I’ve never seen a child so happy and overwhelmed- especially when he met his favourite player Sergio Agüero.”

Idris in hospital during treatment (PA Real Life/Collect)

He added: “The team gave him a personalised football kit and VIP tickets to see their match against Crystal Palace at their home ground on May 6 2017. ”

Collected from their house in a chauffeur-driven limousine, Idris and his dad watched Man City beat Crystal Palace 5-0 from a VIP box with other eager supporters.

Ahmed said: “Idris was beyond happy, especially as it was the first time he’d seen them play live and they won by miles!”

Idris walking on crutches after his rotationplasty procedure (PA Real Life/Collect)

Praising the charity who made Idris’ dream come true, Ahmed said: “Anybody who can, I would urge them to help charities like Make -A-Wish. Putting a smile on a sick child’s face, even just for a minute, is priceless.”

For the campaign backed by Idris and his family, Make-A-Wish have teamed up with The Original Factory Shop to create festive pyjamas for the whole family – including dog accessories – in which £2 from each sale will go straight to Make A Wish.

To purchase the Christmas themed charity pyjamas, visit www.theoriginalfactoryshop.co.uk

© Press Association 2018

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