Millions of people around the world will be watching as Manchester United take on Crystal Palace in the FA Cup Final at Wembley this weekend – and nine-year-old Callum Jesson will have one of the best views in the house.
The football mad youngster, from Deeping St James, has been chosen as one of the mascots who will walk the players onto the hallowed turf before kick-off at 5.30pm on Saturday.
Callum, who plays football for Deepings Rangers under-10s, will travel to London on Friday with his dad Mark and, during the evening, they will attend an exclusive event at the stadium where they will see the trophy and meet FA Cup legends before being chauffeured to an upmarket hotel where they will spend the night.
The Market Deeping Community Primary School pupil was chosen for the honour after his grandmother, Janice Jesson, entered him in a competition run by a national newspaper in conjunction with tournament sponsor Emirates.
Callum said: “My friends didn’t believe me at first. They thought I was making it up – but when I told them it was true they were really jealous.
“I’m a Manchester United fan and can’t wait to meet Wayne Rooney and the other stars and hopefully get some pictures with them.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m really excited.”
Callum, dad Mark, mum Dawn and sister Zara, seven, live in Cowslip Drive, Deeping St James.
Mark, a teacher at University Academy Holbeach, is just as excited about the occasion as his son.
He said: “This is going to be a really special weekend for Callum because he turns 10 on Sunday too.
“It would be great if he could walk out with Rooney, because he is United’s number 10 and that would be a perfect tie in with Callum’s birthday, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
“My parents are Manchester United season ticket holders so Callum has been to a few games at Old Trafford and follows the team’s matches, alongside Peterborough United - our local team.
“I will be watching from the Man United end and will be very proud.
“It looks like it will be an amazing day for both of us.”
Proud nanna Janice, from Bourne, will be watching Callum’s starring role at home on television.
She said: “My 89-year-old aunt reads The Sun every morning from cover to cover while having her breakfast.
“She rang me and told me to enter the competition on Callum’s behalf, which I did.
“She is an avid sports fan and is over the moon to hear Callum was chosen. She has booked a seat at my house because our TV is bigger than hers and she wants to see everything.”
Television rights for the FA Cup final are sold to more than 100 countries worldwide and it is estimated that around half a billion people watch the match each year.