Ian’s touchdown with Kiwi Rugby star goes viral

A photograph of a gentleman supported in Rochdale pictured with his sporting hero has gone viral after the big hearted star shared it with his 247k Instagram followers.

Ian, who is supported at AFG Rochdale, met the New Zealand rugby star, Sonny Williams after visiting the team’s training grounds in Leigh on Tuesday 26th November, with his support worker Ziggy Ahmed.

After beating hosts England at Wembley on Saturday 23rd November to the finals of the Rugby League World Cup 2013, news reported that the New Zealand team broke ‘English hearts’. But not for Ian from AFG Rochdale, after meeting up with rugby star Sonny Bill Williams, a player known for his ‘big hits’ and big heart.

Janine Fearon, a Team Leader at AFG Rochdale said: “Ian has followed Rugby for a number of years and is a huge Wigan Warriors fan.  He has been following the World Cup over the past few months, travelling the country with Ziggy attending the matches. Over this time he has met most of the players and has become particularly good friends with the New Zealand team.

“Ian met Sonny Williams at the grounds and gave him a gift; a book on behalf of Ziggy.”

After getting his photograph taken with Sonny, the rugby star proudly shared the image to his 247k Instagram followers with the caption:

“My man ‘Ian’ giving me a Mike Tyson autobiography as a gift. Thanks brother looking forward to playing your Wigan warriors next year!!” 

The picture of Ian and Sonny soon received over 14k ‘likes’ from his followers as messages of support poured in, with the official Rugby League World Cup for England and Wales 2013 sharing it on their Twitter  page:

“You may know Sonny Bill Williams for his big hits and devastating charges, but there’s a warm and gentle side to this giant of the game.  While playing for the Kiwis, Sonny has struck up a very special friendship with a dedicated fan who has travelled hundreds of miles in the company of his Carer to see his hero play and train at #RLWC2013.  The two caught up at the Kiwis’ training session in Leigh yesterday afternoon, where Ian presented his new pal with a gift which Sonny was so pleased with that he chose to share the moment through his Instagram account.”

And it didn’t stop there! Wigan Warriors tweeted their support to their 33k followers saying:

“Thanks to Ian for the support #TrueWarrior

Ziggy Ahmed, Ian’s Support Worker at Alternative Futures Group said: “Ian hopes to attend Australia next year for a trip of a lifetime. His support team are already thinking of ways to help Ian raise money so he can fulfil his dreams.  Ian has loved watching the Rugby.  We have had some really long days out sometimes not getting home until early hours of the morning but it has been worth it. The players have been brilliant. They always come over to chat to their fans and have always taken time to get to know Ian.  It would be amazing if we could raise enough money because Ian loves the sunshine, he loves rugby and he loves travelling. This really would be a dream come true.”

Ziggy, Ian and Sonny

Ziggy, Ian and new friend Sonny


Rugby star Sonny Williams with new friend Ian

Rugby star Sonny Williams with new friend Ian