Jack Gilby (holding trophy) joins Maidstone's League Cup celebrations Picture: Steve Terrell
A team-talk from young cancer patient Jack Gilby inspired Maidstone to League Cup glory.
Boss Jay Saunders was touched by Jack’s story and invited him to speak in the dressing room ahead of the 3-0 final victory over AFC Sudbury on Tuesday night.
The 13-year-old is in remission from an aggressive form of Burkitt’s lymphoma which saw tumours in his abdomen, kidneys, spleen, bowel and tops of his legs.
Gilby, who supports Arsenal and Maidstone, said: “I was gobsmacked when my dad said Jay wanted me to do the team-talk.
“I’d mentioned when he came round to see me that I wanted to be a manager, so it was great that he asked. It was scary standing there and I was nervous. I said about wearing the shirt with pride and winning the cup for the fans."
Valley Park student Gilby has made a remarkable recovery since being diagnosed last July and is even playing football again for MPE under-14s.
He added: “I’ve just tried to stay positive. If you sit there and be sad all day, it’s going to take a long time to recover. I can feel myself getting stronger every day.”
Stones boss Saunders said: "I went round Jack’s house last week to drop off a photo we’d had done of the boys and I was amazed by how well he looked. He’s such a brave kid.
“We like to do something different every time we have a big game and I came away thinking it would be nice if we asked him to do the team-talk."