Slaven Bilic and his players welcomed a very special guest to the West Ham United training ground recently, as part of the Club’s Like My Dreams initiative.
Nine-year-old Jack McCauley, from Belfast, lives with Cystinosis is a rare, multi-system genetic disorder characterised by the accumulation of an amino acid called cystine in different tissues and organs of the body including the kidneys, eyes, muscles, liver, pancreas and brain.
This condition will eventually require a kidney transplant. Physically Jack is in a good condition and shows no obvious signs of illness – he is a bubbly, confident young boy who doesn’t let his condition hold him back – but does have to spend long spells in hospital and requires daily medication.
As a devoted Hammers fan, who follows the Club’s fortunes avidly at home in Belfast and watches matches on television, Jack’s dream was to one day make a visit to watch the team train and play.
Thanks to the Make-A-Wish UK foundation – who grant magical wishes to enrich the lives of children fighting life-threatening conditions, Jack was flown over from Ireland for the surprise trip to our Rush Green training ground, along with dad William, mum Gillian and older brother Regan.
Jack met Slaven and the players, including his heroes Adrian and Winston Reid, and watched training, before heading to London Stadium a few days later to watch the Hammers draw 0-0 with Everton.
Speaking to West Ham TV during his visit to Rush Green, a delighted Jack said: "It's awesome to watch the players on TV at home, so it's even more awesome to come here and see them right in front of me, and see how fast they actually move the ball
"The players are really nice, they've given me a nice warm welcome to the place. And Winston Reid gave me a shirt with his name on the back, which was fantastic."
Hammers boss Slaven said: "It was great to meet Jack – he was a very friendly and polite boy, and it is fantastic that we were able to give him a day to remember at the training ground. His bravery and enthusiasm is a real example."