Northern Ireland

Custom-made gloves for young goalkeeper Kai Evitt who has ectrodactyly

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Media captionThe David De Gea fan with the golden gloves

Football-mad Kai Evitt had a Christmas wish to wear goalkeeper gloves like his Manchester United hero David De Gea.

But the nine-year-old was born with a condition called ectrodactyly - which means he is missing some fingers and toes.

So finding boots and gloves has always been difficult.

"Football's always been a huge part of our lives," explains his mum Deborah.

"I loved going to see matches with my dad when I was small and Kai now loves it too.

"But it's so hard to buy him football boots or gloves, because they don't fit him properly."

Image copyright Deborah McKee
Image caption Kai Evitt got a very special Christmas present

After joining his local football club, Kai's Christmas wish was to follow in the footsteps of his football hero.

"This Christmas, Kai said he really would love a pair of goalkeeping gloves, so he could be just like David De Gea from Manchester United," added Ms Evitt.

"We didn't know where we would get a pair that would fit him, so his godmother reached out to a few sports companies to see if they could point us in the right direction.

"We didn't let on to Kai, as we didn't want to get his hopes up too much, and to be honest, we didn't hear much back at all."

However, the silence didn't last too long, thanks to a former Scottish professional footballer.

'Beyond our dreams'

Following a career in goals spanning 20 years, Kenny Arthur established his own goalkeeping glove brand.

"I noticed the email about Kai in the company's inbox," the Partick Thistle goalkeeping coach told BBC News NI.

"Goalkeeping is not an easy position to play, so it's important to help the next generation coming through when we can.

"We got Kai and his mum to send across pictures of his hands, with measurements for the size and we made him a bespoke product.

"It wouldn't be something we would be asked to do very often, but it's worth it to know Kai will be able to play with his friends."

As an early Christmas gift, Mr Arthur sent two sets of the bespoke gloves to the family's home in Belfast at no cost.

Kai now says he can't wait to show his gloves to his friends and is really looking forward to playing his first match with them next Saturday.

Image caption Kai with his sister Ariana

"We were so shocked when they arrived," Ms Evitt told BBC News NI.

"We never expected such a kind gesture - there is no way we can repay him for his kindness.

"When he opened them, Kai said to me: 'Mummy, this is the best surprise I've had in my life.'

"The gloves are beyond our dreams really, and they are such a life-changer."