'I never for one minute thought Mark Noble would actually bring me his shirt'
Young Hammer Stevie Whorlow will forever be grateful to Manuel Pellegrini for naming Mark Noble among his substitutes for West Ham United’s Premier League fixture with Brighton & Hove Albion.
For the 12-year-old was able to catch the captain’s eye while he was warming-up early in the second half, when Noble spotted Stevie’s sign asking him for his shirt after the game.
The skipper gestured that he would fulfil the Glasgow-based fan’s request before giving him a thumbs-up but, after Noble’s involvement in a dramatic final half-hour at London Stadium, Stevie admitted he did not expect to see his favourite player again.
But, in typical fashion, the No16 made good on his promise and ran over to his seat in the West Stand before handing over his Claret and Blue jersey, leaving young Stevie in tears.
Mark saw me when he was warming up and gave me a thumbs-up, but I thought I was just acknowledging me. I never for one minute thought he would actually bring me his shirt after the game!
“It was absolutely amazing!” said the schoolboy. “I still cannot even describe the feeling I had when Mark gave me his shirt. I am definitely not going to wash it and it’ll be getting framed and going on my wall as soon as I get home!
“I know this sounds silly but it was almost a good thing for me that he was on the bench, although I was obviously really pleased when he came on and played so well to help us get a draw.
“I have been trying to meet Mark for years but it just hasn’t worked out so, on the day before the game, my Dad said to me ‘Why don’t you make a sign as we are sat down the front and he might see it’, so I did and then this happened!
“Mark saw me when he was warming up and gave me a thumbs-up, but I thought I was just acknowledging me. I never for one minute thought he would actually bring me his shirt after the game!
“I’ve been a massive fan of his since I came to my first game when I was six, as I saw him doing everything for the team when they needed him most.
“I am the only West Ham fan in the village I live in, aside from my Dad, so it feels amazing to see how big it’s got on social media. I just want to thank Mark as he’s the best.”
Dad Stephen explained how his own father was a West Ham fan and that the family had retained their support for the Hammers after moving from Folkestone in Kent to Scotland.
“We try to get down a couple of times a year and always go to the first game of the New Year while we are visiting family,” Stephen explained.
“Stevie has been trying to meet Mark for years, at home games at the Boleyn Ground and at his Testimonial, but for whatever reason he hasn’t managed to meet him.
“I said to Stevie to make a sign and we’d got microwave for Christmas, so he got the box and made the sign out of that asking Mark for his shirt and then this happened!
“He’s got signed photos and a signed shirt, but to get Mark’s actual game-worn shirt is something really special. We’ll never forget it and we all want to thank Mark so much for making Stevie's night, and year!"