Nine-year-old George Shaw has thanked the thousands of Evertonians all around the world who have helped to make his dreams come true after he was invited to Finch Farm to receive his January Goal of the Month award from manager Roberto Martinez.
The young cerebral palsy sufferer, who fought off competition from Ross Barkley, Aaron Lennon and Kevin Mirallas to top a fan poll, has been overwhelmed by the support he has received from Blues supporters.
Following the announcement that George had won the award for the goal he scored at half-time during Everton's game against Swansea City last month, he was given the morning off school on Thursday to visit the Club’s training ground and collect his prize during Martinez's pre-match press conference.
“Thank you to everyone who voted because I wouldn't be here now if no-one had voted," said a delighted George. "Everyone has just been amazing, supporting me and voting for me. It's just been brilliant really.
"I didn’t know that I was going to the press conference because my dad kept it a secret from me. I went in, sat down and Roberto came in and said he would like me to come to the front to give me the Goal of the Month award. I never thought I would get a trophy, so it’s just brilliant to have something to be able to show people."
The Shaw family have been stunned by the reaction to the single tweet posted on New Year’s Day of George doing training drills with his dad Dave at a local playing field.
The video subsequently went viral, prompting winger Gerard Deulofeu to invite the youngster to the Swansea game, while messages have flooded in from people as far afield as Australia to say how George's determination has been an inspiration.
“It’s just snowballed and snowballed," said Dave. "I can’t put my phone down. It just keeps buzzing and ringing with messages from all over the world. The love that has been shown to George is really amazing.
"We were basically told when George was very young to try to keep him away from sport and football, and that maybe by the time he was 12 he would be in a wheelchair. But George's character has just come through and he's pushed so hard, worked so hard and he's shown other children that you can do it.
“This is a special club, special people work here and they've made him feel really welcome. Today is a moment he will treasure forever."
After meeting Roberto, George was introduced to Barkley, Lennon and Mirallas, who presented him with a framed winners' certificate and a football signed by the entire first-team squad.
The special guest also met David Unsworth and the Under-21s squad, before being treated to a tour of the Toffees' state-of-the-art training ground.
"I think George's story has been a fantastic one to follow," said Martinez. "We became aware of it when we saw George in a clip wearing Gerard Deulofeu’s shirt and trying out his skills. It was an incredibly strong story to see how powerful football can be and what an incredible supporter and fan of Everton we have.
"I can guarantee you that he’s been the most popular name we’ve had in the dressing room. The players have been talking about George non-stop and I think he has given us a great lesson about how to use football in the right way and how to be a competitor and a fighter.
"The players have been really impressed to see what a bright young man George is and that there’s never an excuse for not doing something. We are what our fans allow us to be and I think George brings the perfect example of Everton Football Club."
Watch a video of George's day at the top of this story. Or, if you are using the Official Everton App, click here