‘I could have died’ - Cancelo saved City fan from being ‘trampled’

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A young Manchester City supporter that formed part of a title-winning pitch invasion at the end of Manchester City’s memorable final day victory over Aston Villa has suggested that he “could have died” were it not for the quick thinking and support of Joao Cancelo.

The Blues secured another domestic crown in the most dramatic of fashions as the 2021-22 campaign came to a close, with an outpouring of emotion from those in the stands seeing them flood onto the field.

Ollie Gordon - a 10-year-old with autism, dyspraxia and other developmental and co-ordination conditions – formed part of those celebrations, but he became separated from his father in the process and could have been “trampled” had Cancelo not formed a protective shield.

How did Cancelo help to protect a Man City supporter?

Gordon’s mother, Lauren, has told the Manchester Evening News of some frightening scenes for her family: “He took off running, he’s got autism and not aware of dangers or anything so got excited and started running.

“He goes to the stadium with his dad quite a lot, especially recently. I was watching on the telly and saw Lee running across the pitch but not Ollie. I was panicking and trying to get hold of his dad. He saw the Aston Villa keeper getting hit a foot away, you can see him on the videos. It scared him a bit and he saw Cancelo and headed towards him.

“Cancelo pulled him in, both arms around him like a bear hug, kissed the top of his head and was pushing people back. It was quite quick but people were pushing and shoving. My son was terrified. He can’t be on his own, has to be supervised, it was unfortunate he got on the pitch before his dad and took off.

“He said if it wasn’t for Cancelo, who didn’t just hug him, he kept his arms around him which gave his dad time to get there. If he hadn’t, especially the size of the men. He’s pressed up against Cancelo’s chest with all these men crushing up against him. It could have been a completely different story, a little boy on his own on the pitch. That man should have been running around screaming and celebrating this win, but instead took time to stop and look after a little boy.

“He was being mobbed himself, you’d expect him to try and get off the pitch. He completely stopped to look after this little boy who he has no connection to. He probably won’t see it as a big deal, he would have been trampled if not.”

She added on Cancelo’s actions: “He kissed him on the forehead and reassured him, he could see he was scared. As a mum, 600 miles away there's nothing you can do. My heart sank when I saw his dad running across the pitch. His dad said the same, how do you find a four-foot-tall boy in a sea of big burly men screaming and shouting?

“For a minute everything stopped. Once he put his arms out for his dad, Cancelo pushed a guy away to clear a path back to his dad. He went about his business, we had no way to thank him, no way for him to know how grateful we are for what he did.

“We’re too quick as a nation to go to the papers to complain about everything but never to highlight anything good. We should recognise things like this.”

What did the Man City-supporting youngster have to say?

Ollie has written to Cancelo in order to express gratitude and thanks, with his mother admitting that things could have played out alarmingly differently.

She added on Cancelo’s act of kindness: “He was his second favourite player before, he’s definitely his first now.

“I don’t think there are words to thank Cancelo. He probably doesn’t see how important that was.

“Even Ollie says ‘I could have died that day, it was so busy.’ It’s true, he could have, the size of the people around him, he wouldn’t have stood a chance. From the bottom of our hearts, there aren't words to thank him for what he did. I can’t bear the thought of what could have happened to him.”

Cancelo further cemented his status as a superstar at City during the 2021-22 season, with the versatile Portuguese defender registering three goals and 10 assists across all competitions for Pep Guardiola’s side.

Further reading

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