Tim Ream was on hand to surprise Fulham fan Rhys Porter, who has cerebral palsy, on live television on Wednesday after the youngster received online abuse on a video of himself playing football.
After reading Porter’s story via social media, the United States International was there to support him. Porter received a series of vile comments.
Rhys, a young man with cerebral palsy and epilepsy decided to use his experience to help Scope raise funds by participating in a goalkeeping competition as part of the Make it Count campaign.
Having been invited to Fulham’s Motspur Park training ground for an interview with BBC Breakfast, Rhys was left overcome with emotion after being joined by veteran defender Ream.
When asked what where Ream could improve his game before being aware of his presence, Rhys said: “I would say that he’s a great defender, I don’t think he needs to improve.”
With Ream saying when asked how he became aware of Rhys after joining the youngster: “Yeah, I’ve shown my family his video.
“I just think, people see footballers as role models and inspiration and for me, what he’s doing is more inspirational than any of us could ever do.”
Rhys was left in tears following the welcome arrival of the club icon, having opened up on the messages he received on TikTok earlier this summer.
He told Sky Sports News: “I made an account [on TikTok], it was called ‘Rhys the Wall’, I was going to post TikToks of me in goal and I posted about four or five and I posted a video of me where I made a save, and then it went viral and it had loads of horrible comments.
“It made me feel quite sad, but I try and get over it and I try and make the positives come out of the situation.
“I joined a disability charity and I’m doing 20 saves a day in line with the Paralympics and I’m trying to raise some awareness for disabled people. You can find the positives out of a situation if you look hard enough.”
Rhys has raised in excess of £10,000 with his selfless efforts, with mum Kelly beaming with pride over the reaction of her son and his desire to help others.
She said: “There were a lot of hate comments, a lot of really nasty comments, people being opinionated saying things like: ‘you can’t play football you’re disabled’.
“It was shattering to read, but at the same time, we know that life and reality can be quite harsh. We didn’t feel the need for him to hide it, but rather to discuss it with him in order to move forward.
“Make It Count is about racking up as many saves as you want, it’s about inclusivity and everybody being able to take part.
“Rhys created a Whatsapp Group and asked everyone to create videos showing their activities.