Declan Thompson's dad brought to tears as his son makes Sheffield Wednesday debut
The 18-year-old was warned he may never walk again after spending time in a wheelchair when he was younger
With good reason, Declan Thompson's dad shed a few tears on Saturday afternoon.
With Sheffield Wednesday closing in on a 2-0 victory away to Exeter City in the third round of the FA Cup, Declan was brought on to make his Owls debut as the game entered stoppage time.
A video of his father, Lee, trying (and failing) to fight back the tears as he watched his son take to the field soon swept across social media. A lovely moment, but one that told only part of Declan's incredible story.
For a long time, the thought of the 18-year-old being able to reach such a level seemed impossible. Diagnosed with Perthes Disease - a rare childhood condition that affects the hips - Declan spent long periods in a wheelchair and was warned at one stage that he may never walk again.
Despite this, the youngster refused to give up on his dream and, after a number of operations, inked his first contract with Wednesday, the club he supports, last year. Since then, the defender has been a regular fixture in the Under 23s side, earning the right to be on the bench for Saturday's FA Cup game.
"It was quite emotional to watch the video of my family watching me on the TV coming on," Declan told the club's website.
"ust knowing I’ve made them that proud and you could see how much it meant.
"My grandad was the same, he’s not very well right now but I could see how happy I’ve made him. It’s what makes the FA Cup and this game so special."
— Lee Thompson (@LeeThom25796166) January 9, 2021
The youngster also spoke of the moment he realised he was about to make his debut.
"It was really a shock to me. My family said I had a look of shock about me when I was coming on!
"Andy Holdsworth turned around and told me to get ready because I’m going on and I looked at Isaac Rice as if to say, ‘does he mean me!?’
"I couldn’t believe it.
"As I was on the side of the pitch with the board held up with my number on it, I knew I was making my family proud.
"The lads were excellent with me the whole time – they were perfect, the whole day was surreal, like a surreal experience. I didn’t feel like I was really there, I felt I was living a dream.
"I’ve had lots of people contact me saying I’m an inspiration and when I receive these, I always message back - I always want to give something back.”