Turkish hotelier starts crowdfunding campaign to fly young fan to see van Persie
A young Manchester United fan was left in tears after hearing news of Robin van Persie's departure.
But now he has the chance to see his idol take to the pitch for his new team.
Sam Diamond, 35, had uploaded a video to YouTube of his four-year-old son Louis bawling his eyes out when he found out that the Dutchman was leaving for Turkish side Fernabahce.
Since being posted last Thursday (July 9), it has been viewed more than 250,000 times, catching the attention of football fans far and wide — including Turkish hotelier Ragıp Ulaş Altun.
Moved by the video, Altun, who owns a hotel in the Turkish capital of Istanbul, initiated a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to to fly Louis and his father to Turkey to see van Persie play for Fernabahce.
Altun had initially offered them free accommodation at his hotel and only requested that they pay for their own air tickets. But when he found out that they weren't able to do so, he turned to fellow football fans for help.
“If you really love something, you start crying the moment you get close to losing it. As a child, you haven’t quite grasped the workings of the world yet so it’s even harder [to lose something you love]."
According to the Manchester Evening News (MEN), Altun wrote in his Indiegogo post: “My name is Ragıp Ulaş Altun. I would like this little kid to come to the league’s first match of the season. Fenerbahçe’s match against Eskişehir Spor, and if it’s possible, to meet van Persie."
“I have a small boutique hotel in Galata, Istanbul. I will take on the family’s accommodation, transfer and other costs, I just need the family to pay for their London-Istanbul flights. Unfortunately the family expressed that they couldn’t do that, and I can’t afford that either. If you want, and if you can, I say let’s buy the ticket together.”
Louis father did not expect his video to gain worldwide attention and was surprised when he received Altun's offer.
He said that he had only recorded the video so that he could show it to his son in the future.
“As cruel as it may seem I couldn’t resist getting the phone out. My wife and I can’t wait to show it to him in 10 years time when he can laugh along to it,” Diamond told MEN.
He added: “We could never have expected the level of generosity from our friends in Turkey. We’re flattered by the attention.”
“Going to Turkey would be a dream come true. And seeing van Persie play for Fenerbahce would be amazing.”