Everton's Jordan Pickford surprises eight-year-old fan following cancer battle and father's death
Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has surprised one of his youngest fans after receiving a letter telling the story of the schoolboy's battle with illness and bereavement.
Harry Garside, eight, was diagnosed with pneumonia and sepsis when he was just five years old.
Then, doctors at Alder Hey Children's Hospital discovered he had a brain tumour measuring eight centimetres long.
The youngster underwent nine hours of neurosurgery where surgeons removed 90 per cent of the growth.
But nine months later, the remaining part of the tumour, which was embedded in his central nervous system, became active.
The schoolboy had to endure 28 days of radiotherapy treatment to get it removed.
While Harry was being treated, his father unexpectedly passed away at just 40 years old.
However, the young Evertonian put his grief on hold to complete the rest of his treatment.
Following this difficult period in his life, Harry's mum Laura wrote to Pickford to share the story of her son's remarkable bravery and the affection he holds for Everton's and England's Number One.
Harry's Mum Laura said: "Harry, nor his sister got the opportunity to say goodbye to their dad.
"At the same time, Harry had to put his grief on hold to complete his treatment. He was a warrior and without complaint, he carried on."
She continued: "I just had to sit down and say 'daddy's gone to heaven' and his reaction was just so sad.
"He had a cap on because he was just so conscious about his hair loss and he just pushed the cap right in front of his face and cried."
In the letter, Harry's mum thanked Alder Hey Children's Hospital for giving her son, who she described has her hero, "a future to look forward to".
Pickford was inspired by Harry’s bravery and courage. He was then invited to Everton's Finch Farm training base in Halewood to meet his hero.
Harry was starstruck and emotional as he shook Pickford's hand for the first time.
The eight-year-old soon warmed up as he played football with Toffees players Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Conor Coady, Alex Iwobi, Demarai Gray and James Tarkowski taking turns in goal.
The players laughed and cheered as Harry said "it's too easy", shooting another ball in the net.
At the end Harry stood in the middle as he posed for a photo with the Everton stars and held a green football top signed by his hero Pickford.