Ten-year-old Polina Haeredinova could not wipe the smile off her face when her football idol Cristiano Ronaldo rolled the disabled girl onto the pitch ahead of the Russia-Portugal FIFA Confederations Cup match in Moscow.
The clearly visible excitement, pride and sheer joy glittered in the eyes of Haeredinova as she headed the procession of 22 players onto the lush green surface of the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, holding the hand of the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldo.
“I couldn’t expect that it would be such a great experience. Cristiano Ronaldo was outstanding. He gave me his coat and kissed me for luck. I was in the center of unbelievable emotions, supporting Russia. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life,” Polina said after her once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Ronaldo’s goodwill efforts ahead of the kickoff was seemingly rewarded during the match, when on eighth minutes, the Portuguese captain scored with a header which was enough to beat hosts, Russia.
Describing her experience to RT, Polina recalled her brief conversation with the Real Madrid superstar, “Welcome to Moscow. I’m very happy to see you.”
Ronaldo, according to the girl, thanked her when she gave him the handmade bracelet of the Portuguese national team colors.
Polina’s dream was made possible through the ‘Going to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup with McDonalds’ program which selected over 350 underprivileged kids to be Player Escorts. While the initiative has been running for 15 years, this year, for the first time, the program included children with disabilities escorting players.
The 10-year-old though, was not the first Russian fan who hugged the 32-year-old Portugal striker. Earlier, a young fan broke through the security line of the hotel where the Portuguese team was staying in Moscow to hug his hero.