When 9 year old season ticket holder Tommy Ridyard was on a family holiday in Barcelona recently, his dad John searched high and low for a Catalonia shirt, the region in Spain around the Barcelona area where Oriol Riera is from.
Latics’ new striker has played once and scored for the side, in December 2013 against Cape Verde. The team do not play very often – they are not recognised by FIFA – but when they do, it’s always a special occasion because Catalans are immensely proud of their region.
If you look through the list of names in the team, it’s pretty impressive: alongside Latics’ new Number 9, the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and a host of other names from La Liga clubs are included.
Tommy and John eventually managed to track down the shirt on the internet, and he proudly wore it to a Wigan Athletic Community Trust Soccer School, held this week at Abraham Guest School.
The club then invited him down to the training ground to meet his hero and imagine Oriol’s surprise when he saw Tommy with his bright yellow shirt, with ‘Riera 9’ on the back. He was of course more than happy to pose and chat with Tommy and sign the shirt.
"It was nice to see the Catalan shirt here in Wigan, a good surprise! Tommy can be my lucky mascot now."
Dad John said: "It was a lovely gesture by the club to invite us so a big thank you to everyone."
A club spokesman said: "I hope Tommy now goes and buys a Latics shirt to go with his Catalonia one."