The team of young Thai footballers who captured the world’s attention when trapped in an underground cave for more than two weeks this summer enjoyed a day to remember at Manchester United’s Old Trafford on Sunday.
Having met United manager Jose Mourinho and first team stars on Saturday, they were guests of honour as the Red Devils faced Everton in the Premier League.
The 12 youngsters from the “Wild Boars” club, aged between 11 and 16, and their coach spent 17 days trapped underground before being rescued in a multi-national operation.
And they were invited to United’s Carrington training ground to meet Mourinho and first team stars on the eve of the Everton game.
Mourinho hugged every member of the squad and posed for photographs before signing souvenirs.
Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Ashley Young, Andreas Pereira and Fred also met the young players, whose predicament attracted worldwide attention last summer.
The youngsters have already experienced a taste of Manchester United folklore, having appeared alongside the club’s former forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a US talk show hosted by Ellen Degeneres.
The 12 players were accompanied by two coaches, family members and Thai government official Werachon Sukondhapatipak.
Sat in the Old Trafford directors’ box, all wearing United scarves and bobble hats, they received a rapturous welcome from the home support when introduced to the crowd before kick-off.
United, meanwhile, held a minute’s silence before kick-off, in joint memory of Remembrance Sunday and the helicopter crash on Saturday evening involving the aircraft belonging to Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.