A Lurgan family got a pleasant surprise when they met the England football team while on holiday in Portugal last week.
The Lyness family had flown to Portugal for a family wedding, and decided to spend the final day of their trip visiting the luxury Vale do Lobo golf resort, where the squad were preparing for next month’s World Cup.
“It was the last day of our holiday and the weather wasn’t great. Some of our family were staying down in Vale do Lobo, so we just took a spin down to visit,” Stephanie Lyness explained.
“We knew the English squad were there, but we didn’t think we had a chance of getting near them. We went to the hotel anyway, and were really surprised when they let us sit inside, just in front of the room where a live press conference was taking place.”
Stephanie, her husband, Brian, and their daughter Zara, were able to hear all that was being said to journalists in the next room, but that was just the beginning.
“I got talking to security, and asked if there was any chance of meeting the players,” Stephanie said. “He looked doubtful, but as the players left the room, every one of them stopped for photographs with us. Zara enjoyed it, but I think my husband was even more excited.”
Brian, who is a Man Utd supporter, was able to speak to England manager Roy Hodgson, ahead of the team’s journey to South America for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
After the press conference, the England team went for a round of golf beside the hotel, where Stephanie and the family hoped to get one last glimpse: “We were allowed to watch them tee off and then Steven Gerrard invited Zara up to the green for a photo!”
The experience wasn’t altogether new for Zara, a primary 7 pupil at Waringstown Primary School, as she met Frank Lampard and several other England players in Portugal back in 2006. Needless to say, she will be the envy of many of her classmates now.
“All the wee lads in Zara’s school are very jealous,” Stephanie added. “We couldn’t believe our luck. If it had been a nice, sunny day, we wouldn’t have travelled down. It’s a memory we’ll always have.”