Young fan left in tears after meeting his NRL hero


tedescoASHTON Azzopardi woke up Monday morning still clutching the pair of pink football boots.

The 10-year-old Wests Tigers fan was so starstruck by his Sunday afternoon at the football that he didn’t know if it was all a dream.

But his emotional reaction after meeting his hero, Tigers fullback James Tedesco, gave Ashton an experience he will never forget.

Ashton was reduced to tears at the end of the Tigers’ 28-14 loss to Penrith on Sunday, but it had nothing to do with the result.

Tedesco proved himself one of rugby league’s good guys when he put aside his side’s disappointing defeat to make some time for the young fan.

“(Ashton) was calling out to him and waving at him and he’s just walked over and started talking to him and signed his ball,” Ashton’s mum, Tegan Azzopardi said.

tedesccAfter posing for photos, NSW Origin star Tedesco handed Ashton a pair of personalised pink football boots.

“Ashton had said to me after it all had happened he was going to cry as soon as he’d seen him but he was trying not to,” Tegan Azzopardi said.

“Ashton just said to him ‘you’re my favourite player and you’ll always be my favourite player.

 “James put his hand on his shoulder and that’s when Ashton started crying. Tedesco then said to him ‘It’s all right mate’ and gave him a hug.

“That’s when he got down and pulled out his boots and gave them to Ashton.”

The pair reunited in Sydney’s west on Monday and even Tedesco was caught off guard by the response to his gesture.

“I’m embarrassed by all the attention. I didn’t think it would blow up the way it did,” Tedesco said. “I was just touched by his passion for the Tigers and his support.”

Ashton wtedetedesas so excited he had trouble sleeping on Sunday night and missed school yesterday.

“He said to me this morning [Monday] when he woke up he actually thought it was a dream but then he’d seen the boots next to him in bed,” Tegan said.

“He’s home today. He couldn’t go to sleep last night because he was so excited that he didn’t wake up until 10am this morning.”

But his boots are so prized that the Windsor Wolves junior isn’t even willing to take them to school today to show them off to his mates.

“No way, they are too special to me and I don’t want no one to touch them. I love them,” Ashton said.

Sunday wasn’t the first time Tedesco had made Ashton cry this year.

Ashton was inconsolable when Tedesco decided to walk away from the Tigers to link up with the Sydney Roosters for 2018.

“It actually broke his heart when he first found out that James was leaving, he cried and nobody could talk about it in front of him or he would just burst into tears,” his mother said.

“He did consider it [becoming a Roosters supporter] but he said he’ll always be a Tiger but James will always be my favourite player.”