Brave George to lead Sunderland out against Manchester City at Wembley

Sunderland mascot George Johnson
Sunderland mascot George Johnson
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LUCKY charm George Johnson hopes to inspire Sunderland once again after being chosen to leading out the team at Wembley on Sunday.

The four-year-old has captured the hearts of fellow Black Cats supporters after being mascot for the side’s wins against Everton and Manchester United

George’s family have been fund-raising to try and pinpoint a diagnosis for his illness which means he cannot eat, drink or swallow.

Supporters, along with Sunderland football club, have joined friends and family to back the Team George campaign to raise funds to send the youngster to America, where it is hoped doctors can find out what is causing his illness.

They set a target of £20,000, but have doubled that thanks to the generosity of wellwishers.

Now, as he prepares for an annual ‘MOT’ at Great Ormond Street Hospital and to undergo his 76th operation ahead of his visit to the USA, he is filled with excitement after being asked to be mascot at Sunday’s Capital One Cup final at Wembley.

Dad Neil, 33, from Farringdon, said: “This really is a chance of a lifetime.

“He’s absolutely thrilled, he thinks he’s one of the players and he’s said ‘Have they asked me to play again?’

“Last time, at Sunderland, he saw Poyet and said ‘It’s you’ and he came over and gave him a high-five, and George thinks he’s best friends with John O’Shea, who has been really fantastic with him.

“But this will be the big one.”

The youngster has already been mascot at the Boxing Day win against Everton and the semi-final second leg against Manchester United, and then Hull’s game at the Stadium of Light earlier this month – which Sunderland lost.

Parents Neil and Emma, also 33, will be dressing him in the shirt he wore for the wins, after swapping his top for the Hull game.

George, who lives on The Wirral with his parents and sister Ava, five, was the star guest at a charity match held earlier this month at the Academy of Light, which was followed by a gala dinner at the Stadium of Light.

Neil, whose former employer More Than at Doxford Park has backed Team George, added: “We want to thank the people of Sunderland for their continued support. I’m incredibly proud to come from Sunderland and for what they have done, it’s really overwhelming.”