Nine-year-old Harrison Ogle is a devoted professional soccer fan, and was excited to play in his first match with a new youth team in Sheffield, England. He played goalkeeper during the preseason game — and became visibly upset as the competing team scored again and again on him until the final tally was 11-0.
His father, Allan Ogle, told him to ignore the score. But Ogle took note when his son became emotional: Harrison has faced a host of health and learning challenges in his short life and doesn't show his feelings readily, his father said.
So a few days after the Aug. 12 game, when Harrison was still feeling low, Ogle put together a compilation of his son's best saves during the game, posted it on Twitter, and hoped some friends might say an encouraging word.
He wrote: "He's overcome premature birth, swine flu, pneumonia and has educational challenges. Emotional for me to see my boy Harrison's debut in goal on Sunday for his new team. Lost 11-0. (video camera emoji) his saves to cheer him up, any support from footy fans please I'll show him"
"I was thinking that this will be some journey if we don't find a way to show some positivity," Ogle said in an interview with The Washington Post.
Then, on a whim, he tagged Harrison's soccer hero James McKeown, goalkeeper for Grimsby Town, their local pro squad and his son's favorite team.
Unbelievably, McKeown retweeted it and wrote:
And if that wasn't enough, a virtual roster of rock stars in England's professional goalkeeping world also started weighing in.
Retired player Nevile Southall, known as one of England's best goalkeepers of his time, commented.
Lukasz Fabianski, goalkeeper for Premier League club West Ham United, replied to the post with a GIF of soccer wisdom.
Another of England's goalkeeping legends, David Seaman, wrote about his own challenges when he was a kid.
The video has been viewed more than 1 million times and has more than 50,000 likes. Ogle said Harrison likes when his dad shares each update and new comment with him.
"It's been absolutely brilliant," said Ogle, 34, who works as charity manager for Cash for Kids, a foundation that helps disadvantaged children. "He was singing and dancing when I told him the video had been seen a million times."
Ogle said he shot the video because he celebrates all of his son's firsts, saying he's thankful that his son is healthy enough to participate in activities such as soccer. When Harrison was born, he weighed less than two pounds.
"I make a big thing of it because I'm grateful I can have these special moments with him," Ogle said. "For what he'd been through in his early days, he's lucky to be alive, and were grateful for that."
Through their Twitter interactions, the Ogles got an invitation they couldn't refuse. Harrison, his brother, his father and his grandfather were all invited to be VIPs and meet the players on Sept. 1 when Grimsby Town plays Yeovil Town. Ogle, himself a rabid soccer fan, is counting the days.
As for Harrison's youth team, the under-11 Beighton Falcons, Ogle said they have plans to come out fierce in their next preseason game in a few weeks. Harrison is ready to get out there again as well.
"He's got a bit of a spring in his step," Ogle said.