Bexleyheath schoolboy lives the Arsenal dream in front of 40,000 fans

Bexleyheath schoolboy lives the Arsenal dream in front of 40,000 fans

Seven-year-old Callum Pickrell steps out at Stamford Bridge with his Arsenal heroes

Callum Pickrell with his favourite Arsenal player Thomas Vermaelen

First published in Bexley
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FOOTBALL-MAD Callum Pickrell from Bexleyheath enjoyed a once in a lifetime opportunity last weekend when he was chosen to be a mascot for his beloved Arsenal.

The Belmont Primary School pupil strolled out with his favourite player and Gunners skipper Thomas Vermaelen in front of more than 40,000 fans at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. (Jan 20)

Callum, who plays for Phoenix Lions under-7’s in Crayford, was randomly chosen from 30,000 Junior Gunners to be mascot for the Chelsea match.

Although Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by their London rivals, seven-year-old Callum did not let it dampen his big day.

"He absolutely loved it," said proud dad Alan, who watched from the stands.

"About five minutes before kick-off the snow really started, he was in his little shorts, bless him.

"It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. He was a bit nervous, he’s only turned seven and to walk out in front of 40,000 and millions watching worldwide. I thought he might say ‘daddy, I can’t do this’.

"He was very excited and we were a bit worried about the game going ahead."

Before the match Callum, of Hythe Avenue, was allowed behind the scenes access to the players’ lounge and dressing room where he had chance to meet the players and manager and pick-up a signed shirt.

Alan, 43, added: "The landscape picture (above) looks like a scene from Reservoir Dogs. Usually when the teams walk out they're in line but they break out, it's brilliant."

Early goals from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard put Chelsea in control. Theo Walcott’s second-half strike gave the visitors hope, but the European Champions held off a late onslaught to secure victory.

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