Young Caleb shows Mayor his signed James McClean, Harry Kane, Patrick McEleney jerseys at Derry’s Guildhall
Five-year-old Derry boy Caleb Toland was the star attraction at a reception hosted by Mayor Brian Tierney this week as he displayed his football jerseys from a string of top players.
Caleb was joined by his mum Aine and dad Richard and his grandparents as they travelled to the Guildhall for the VIP reception this week.
A few weeks ago Caleb’s father spoke of how he was “over the moon” after he received a signed shirt from Tottenham Hotspurs player Harry Kane
Caleb Toland, who is recovering after undergoing major brain surgery last month, received the shirt from one of his sporting heroes after his dad reached out to Spurs players to send a message to his son before the surgery took place.
A number of players sent messages to Caleb, including current and past Spurs players, Derry City players and other local footballing heroes.
England international Harry Kane reached out to the family and offered to send the Greenhaw Primary School pupil a signed shirt.
He also received signed shirts from Derry’s own star players James McClean and Patrick McEleney.
Speaking at the time, his father said: “Caleb was beaming when he got the shirt from Harry Kane. When we were getting all the messages from the players he was asking how they knew him and we told him they knew all about him because he was so brave.”
Caleb was diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation, a condition where the lower part of the brain pushes down into the spinal canal, when he was just one.
He required surgery because his brain began to sit very low and it had caused a cyst to develop on his spine.
Caleb is football mad and is obsessed with all things Spurs and Derry City.
His father said the family were worried about the surgery and he decided to reach out to his son’s sporting heroes in an attempt to lift his spirits before the procedure.
“I never expected to get signed shirts or anything, but they have just made him so happy. They are all away to get framed now and will be going up on his bedroom wall.”
After Caleb received the shirt, Ritchie put a post on Twitter thanking Harry Kane and the star player shared it along with a message that he hoped the surgery had gone well.
Caleb has been recovering at home over recent weeks and will miss the rest of the school year. But Ritchie said his football mad son is looking forward to the days when he can return to matches and hopefully, in time, to playing football himself.