Superstars Messi and Suarez meet Jay Beatty
Two of the world's top footballers sent out a special request to meet Lurgan bhoy Jay Beatty at the weekend's riveting clash between Celtic and Barcelona.
Twelve-year-old Jay received a special invitation from the owner of Barcelona FC whom he met while attending Spanish Sports Gala Awards.
An international star in his own right, little Jay has met more legends than most - now Lionel Messi and Louis Suarez can also say they met Jay Beatty.
Jay met the entire Barcelona team at their hotel prior to the Celtic Barcelona game at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Armed with his trusty green ball, several of the Barca team had a kickabout with Jay who showed them his many skills.
The Hoops ambassador met the Argentinian legend Messi and posed for pictures.
Messi put his arm around Jay, and the wee man was intent on giving the goalscoring wizard a few words of advice ahead of the match.
He also commented on Messi’s new blonde style saying he liked his hair.
However the 12-year-old made it plain where his allegiances lay when it comes to the Spanish and Scottish champions.
“I like Barcelona, but I love Celtic.”
Jay’s dad Martin said Messi had limited English but the pair had a great conversation with the help of an interpretor and Jay had the Argentinian smiling and laughing.
Suarez had a better command of English and Jay and Louis had a great chat about football.
Jay also had a kick-about with young midfielder Carles Alena
Jay, who has Down’s Syndrome, became Celtic’s unofficial mascot two years ago after striker Georgios Samaras plucked him from the crowd to help celebrate winning the league title.
His father Martin said it was an amazing afternoon with the Catalan club.
He said: “Jay told them that today was only ‘a warm up for Celtic’s crucial Champions League qualifier on Wednesday night and we would be going easy on you’.
“Barcelona will be cheering us on....We are a club like no other.”
Hundreds of fans travelled from Lurgan to the Dublin game including 200 fans from Lurgan Glasgow Supporters Club.
Celtic were beaten 3-1 by Barca in the game which saw new Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers reunited with ex-Liverpool player Suarez.
Martin added: “A great day with the greatest supporters in the world watching the greatest club in the world playing the mighty Barcelona, the result was not what we had hoped for but I think this picture of Jay celebrating Celtics goal sums up what this club means to us all.”
Jay shot to fame when he netted a penalty in a half time competition during Celtic’s 2-0 win against Hamilton in 2015 after being invited to the game as a guest of the Lanarkshire club and went on to win the goal of the month award in Scotland.
Jay is most famously known for his relationship with former Celtic striker Giorgios Samaras who carried him around Parkhead for Celtic’s lap of honour after winning the SPL in May, 2014.