POORLY George Johnson’s dream of leading SAFC out at Wembley on Sunday was in jeopardy just hours before the youngster stepped onto the pitch.
A machine which feeds George stopped working hours earlier, meaning that instead of the two litres of vitamins which the four-year-old should have received, he was given just five millilitres.
By the time George, who has an undiagnosed gastro condition, arrived at Wembley, he was so exhausted he had to be given IV fluids in the stadium’s first aid room.
Mum Emma, 32, who watched the Black Cats Capital One Cup final game against Manchester City with husband Neil, 33, of Farringdon, and dad David Cassidy, 58, said the day got off to a rocky start.
She said: “We carry the IV fluids around with us so we had to give him them and he had an hours sleep in a chair.
“Luckily when he woke up he was lively. It was like someone charged his batteries.
“People watching him on the telly or looking at the pictures would never know that one hour before he was on the pitch he was asleep.”
The little lad, who has now led the team out for four matches, was taken to watch the players warm up on the pitch and given a welcome by head coach Gus Poyet.
Emma added: “He recognised George and they had a laugh together which was amazing.
“It was a great experience for me and Neil as we watched it all happen.
“John O’Shea was great with George. He recognised him straight away and took him by the hand.
“When there was 20 minutes to go George was saying ‘look they need me on the pitch, can I go down?’”
Emma, also mum to Ava, five, said that the family are grateful to Sunderland AFC for the support it has given her family, as well as the support from fans and Wearside residents.
“You couldn’t hear it on the telly, but the whole of the Sunderland supporters’ side at Wembley was shouting ‘there’s only one George Johnson when he came out onto the pitch,’” said Emma.
“The support that George gets from the club is just amazing.
“This was the first time we have been to London and it hasn’t been for a hospital visit.”
A campaign to send George and his family to America so he can receive a diagnosis for his condition has so far raised more than £40,000.
Team George now aims to continue to raise money for whatever medical treatment he may need in the USA.
Emma is hoping her son, who is currently suffering from prolapses and bowel problems which are affecting his kidneys, will be admitted to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital to see a consultant.
“We were hoping he would go in, in January,” she said. “But that hasn’t happened yet.
“We can’t get a date to go to America until we have seen a consultant. At the moment, we are just trying to keep the kids as happy and in as much of a normal routine as possible. And we are continuing to try and raise money for any treatment George will need, and raise awareness of gastro conditions.”