World Cup dream for Niamh,10
PUBLISHED: 14:47 17 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:02 25 August 2010
A TEN-YEAR-OLD girl who held Wayne Rooney s hand as the England team walked out for their World Cup game against the USA says it was like a dream come true.
A TEN-YEAR-OLD girl who held Wayne Rooney's hand as the England team walked out for their World Cup game against the USA says "it was like a dream come true."
Niamh Murphy, 10, of Barrington Road, Bexleyheath won a competition to be England mascot for the game in Rustenburg, South Africa, last Saturday, in which England drew 1-1.
The euphoric Barrington Primary School pupil wrote to competition judges, which included 1966 World Cup legend Sir Geoff Hurst, explaining why she deserved to win.
Organised by a fast food chain and a national newspaper, children were chosen from the UK and also South Africa.
The dedicated Manchester United fan said: "Walking on to the pitch was amazing. Wayne Rooney was my favourite because I support Manchester United.
"He patted me on the back and smiled.
"I was a bit nervous. It was like a dream come true."
Her winning entry described the moment when she was a mascot aged just two-and-a-half at a football game in memory of her mother Nikki, who died of skin cancer aged 32.
In her poignant entry to the competition, she said: "I love football. My dad organised a special match to remember Mummy by. It was sad."
Her proud father, IT manager Dave Murphy, 38, said: "She started crying when she found out she'd won. She couldn't believe it.
"She doesn't realise the enormity of what happened."
The father of three who has now remarried, said: "I was incredibly proud of her. I was shaking when I saw her and had a cry myself."
Ms Murphy and her father spent three nights in South Africa and visited the Rena Le Lona community project in Soweto which is an after school centre for children aged between five to 18 years old whose lives have been affected in some way by HIV.
Mr Murphy said: "It was an amazing experience. Visiting Johannesburg and Soweto was quite humbling."
He described the game which saw England draw one all with the USA as "nail-biting". When England scored in the first four minutes he said: "Everyone in the crowd was jumping up and down, they went crazy.