Northern Ireland

Lurgan boy Jay Beatty in running for Scottish Football League goal of the month

Jay Beatty
Image caption Jay Beatty is celebrating after being placed among the contenders for the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) goal of the month award for January

An 11-year-old boy from Northern Ireland is in the running for the Scottish Football League's goal of the month award.

Jay Beatty, from Lurgan, hit the back of the net at half-time at Celtic's victory over Hamilton Academical last month.

Jay, who has Down's Syndrome, is challenging players like Mikael Lustig and David Goodwillie for the trophy.

The goal has gone viral on social media.

His father Martin explained: "I got a link earlier this week from a friend on Facebook to a clip of the SPFL (Scottish Professional Football League) goal of the month contenders for January, at the end of the clip Jay's goal popped up."

"I thought my friend had made it up or altered it, but I then checked and it was on the official SPFL website.

"There is a strong possibility he could win the award, it has been viewed by a couple of hundred thousand people and websites are encouraging people to vote for Jay.

"This type of thing doesn't happen to children with Down's Syndrome, they don't get in the limelight, he is being seen as wee Jay and not a boy with Down's Syndrome. It is great for raising awareness."

Mr Beatty said it was a dream for Jay to tuck away the penalty kick in front of the Celtic supporters.

Image caption The 11-year-old met up with Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano at a gala ceremony earlier this week

He said his son had taken to the pitch after providing a stirring team talk to the Glasgow giant's first-team squad.

"Hamilton and Celtic could not have been nicer to Jay after his wish to Santa Claus was granted," he said.

"No-one else is normally allowed in the Celtic changing room prior to kick-off, but he was allowed in to give them a team talk.

"Jay stood in front of 20 professional players and gave off about their previous performances and said they needed to buck up their ideas, it seemed to work a treat.

"He has always said do you think I will play for Celtic daddy? He wanted to celebrate like his hero, the former Celtic player Georgios Samaras, and dive into the crowd. When Jay scored he ran straight towards the advertising hoardings and I couldn't keep up with him."

Nou Camp

It appears Jay will have to get used to the limelight, as earlier this week he was in Barcelona to collect a special award which celebrated the friendship forged with his hero Samaras.

The boy made headlines when the former Celtic striker pulled him from the crowd to celebrate the club's Scottish Premiership title win last year.

The event in Spain, hosted by leading sports newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, meant he met some of the finest talents from the Nou Camp.

However, Mr Beatty said that despite the offer of a longer stay by Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, Jay's schedule was firmly fixed.

"At the gala ceremony on Monday night, the president of Barcelona asked Jay in front of the audience to be his guest at the Nou Camp on the Tuesday and to meet more of the players," he added.

"But Jay turned round and said he did not want to stay as Celtic were playing Partick Thistle on Wednesday and he wanted to be back home to watch it on television.

"The Barcelona president laughed and said that's what a true supporter is, you will have to come back another time."

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