Three football mad lads have been propelled to stardom after an act of kindness in the Brazilian slums.
Preston North End fans Ben Shaw, Adam Brown and Scott Newton took time away from the football stadiums of the 2014 World Cup to visit the favelas in Rio de Janeiro
The trio gave one of the small children they met in the poverty-stricken area a PNE shirt and their picture with the young football fan has gone viral over several social media platforms on the internet.
The photo has more than 18,000 likes on Facebook and has been retweeted more than 5,000 times on Twitter.
And 21-year-old Ben from Kirkham, near Preston, was humbled to experience the “real” Brazil.
He said: “We’d visited the Christ the Redeemer statue and done a lot of touristy stuff and we just wanted to see the real Brazil. So we asked the hostel if we could have a tour around the favelas.
“We visited them, it is really hard to explain, there was lots of tin shacks but it isn’t all drugs and crime.
“The people we met were some of the nicest people you will ever come across.
“We played football with a lot of the youngsters and all the little lad in the picture wanted was an England shirt.
“So we gave him a PNE shirt and his face lit up, it was like he had won the World Cup, he was so happy.
“Hopefully he will be the next big Brazilian footballer, the next Neymar and he will remember North End and want to sign for us.”
Adam and Scott are from Leyland and the three England fans have just returned from a two-week trip cheering on the Three Lions in South America.
They have travelled the country and soaked up the amazing atmosphere.
And locksmith Ben can’t believe the impact their photo has had.
He said: “I uploaded the picture and went out to one of the fan zones, by the time I’d returned to the hostel it had gone viral.
“It’s amazing, I’ve saved up all year and I’ve had to miss out on watching PNE to save for the trip. We watched the Uruguay match in Sao Paulo and we went to the Costa Rica match – the atmosphere at that match was amazing.
“The whole country turns yellow when Brazil plays, it is unbelievable, it is virtually a bank holiday every time they play.
“We’ve seen quite a few North End fans out here and a Sir Tom Finney flag.
“It’s been an incredible trip despite England being knocked out.
“Hopefully the shirt has made a difference to the lad, he will remember Preston and hopefully people will realise that the favelas are full of real people, young kids who have nothing and just want to play football, not crime and drugs.”