On Saturday, Luey Jacob Sharp, the 2-day-old son of Doncaster Rovers striker Billy Sharp (No. 10, pictured above) and his wife Jade, passed away. Because of this, Sharp was understandably expected to miss Tuesday's Npower Championship match against Middlesbrough. But this expectation underestimated Sharp's determination to pay tribute to his son the best way he knew how. And as Doncaster manager Dean Saunders said after the game, Sharp made it clear that he wanted to be out there.
From the BBC:
"He rung me and asked if he could play - he wanted to play. He wanted to score a goal for his son and his family and he was ready to go. When he said that to me I couldn't really refuse."
So Sharp was put back in the starting XI after missing Saturday's match against Coventry and he was given the captain's armband before leading his team out for the start of his tribute.
Before kick-off, Sharp requested a message be read to supporters ahead of the minute's applause [pictured above].
The message read: "This is a minute's applause to celebrate the short life of Billy and Jade's son [Luey] Jacob Sharp.
"Born 27th October, taken by the angels on the 29th. Sleep tight son."
Just 14 minutes into the match, the 25-year-old's determination paid off as he opened the scoring with a looping volley that he would later call "the most important goal of my career." He then celebrated by lifting up his shirt to show a T-shirt with the message: "That's for you, son" (video below). And the referee didn't give Sharp the mandatory yellow card for removing his shirt.
Doncaster went on to lose 3-1, putting it at the bottom of the table, but after the match, opposing manager Tony Mowbray summed up the sentiment on the night:
"I'm delighted for the boy that he's scored such a fantastic goal on such an occasion for him. [...]
"For him to score a wonder-goal, your headlines should be there really - a goal from heaven."
Call it sappy if you must. However, following the case of Carlos Tevez -- a multimillionaire who refused to play in a match because his manager asked him to warm up twice -- it's gratifying to hear about a person eager to be on the pitch and use the game to try and help his family overcome something terrible.
Billy is on Twitter @BillySharp10. He says he's been flooded with messages of support, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind a few more.
Video via 101gg
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