Luke Shaw has always been Amy Pustelnik’s favourite player since he arrived at Manchester United back in 2014.
Currently on summer break, the 17-year-old persuaded her mum, Rebecca, to make the 100 mile trip to Carrington from their Nottingham home in the hope of getting a picture with the left-back.
She wasn’t a complete stranger to Shaw, who had recently followed a page set up by Amy on Instagram to support him during his long spell on the sidelines after breaking his leg against PSV Eindhoven.
And when the two met, Shaw went one better than just a photo and autograph: he took her on personal tour around Old Trafford, taking a photo with her on the pitch.
“Luke started following my page earlier this year and I was really shocked so I asked him if I came down to Carrington if he would stop for me so I could get a picture,” she said soon after meeting her hero.
“When he came out he stopped and had pictures with loads of fans and he asked me if I had been to Old Trafford before. I told him I had been last season and then he asked me if I wanted to go in his car to the ground and have a tour. I couldn’t believe it.
“We were talking about his injury in the car and about when he’s hoping to come back and he just kept checking I was okay.”
“I’ve been on the tour before but you don’t get anywhere near the pitch, I just couldn’t believe it.”
“I was totally amazed, it didn’t feel like a real life experience it really was a once in a life time opportunity. Getting to go on the pitch and have the picture was probably the best part and I can’t wait to see him back in a United shirt.”
United players have a demigod status to their supporters. And that, I imagine, must be strange – to be seen as a higher being with special value, rather than just the mortal creature being you really are. In a way, you can see why some celebrities cannot stand coming in contact with their fanatical support.
But credit goes to players who understand the fabricated divide for what it is and, instead of retreating to their corner, indulge in this strange dynamic for a short while. Jesse Lingard, earlier this summer, took some time out of his day to play football with a bunch of kids, for example.
These small gestures are important because the recipient will never, ever forget them. To have the idol you commemorate on a daily basis actually driving you to Old Trafford is something truly heartwarming.
So well played, Luke. Supporters will be keen to see him back in the starting XI soon.