A young Aston Villa fan who had been reduced to tears by stewards before their Europa Conference League clash with AZ Alkmaar on Thursday night left the stadium with a smile on his face. Unai Emery’s side travelled to Holland to face their Eredivisie opponents and came away with a resounding 4-1 victory to continue their winning run in the competition. And for one young fan, it proved to be a night to remember after a classy gesture from Moussa Diaby.
Hours before the game, video footage on social media showed the Villa youngster unfurling his homemade banner inside the AFAS Stadium. It contained a personalised message for Diaby that read: “Moussa Diaby je peux avoir te chemise?”, which in English translates to: “Moussa Diaby, can I have your shirt?”
However, he was quickly spotted by a steward before the game, who walked over and confiscated the sign and left the boy looking distraught.
A recently-introduced rule in Holland prohibits fans from displaying banners asking for players’ shirts after clubs such as Ajax claimed they could not fulfil all of the requests.
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And that proved to be the case when the travelling Villa youngster had his banner taken away from him.
Despite taking the time to explain his decision, it did nothing to console the kid, who could be seen crying in his seat as the AZ match steward walked away – sparking an outcry on social media amongst Villa fans.
It seems the Premier League club had been made aware of what had happened, as they made an attempt to find their young supporter after the game and brought him out onto the technical area.
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There, he was met by his hero Diaby, who showed his kindness by embracing the kid and handing him his No 19 match-worn jersey.
The wide grin on the boy’s face said it all as he savoured his priceless memorabilia and posed for a photo with Diaby, who had been given a rest by Emery after starting every game in the Premier League this season.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed a fine start to his Aston Villa career, scoring twice and assisting three goals since his club-record £52million transfer from Bayer Leverkusen in July.
He came off the bench for a brief nine-minute cameo, with Villa wrapping up the convincing win after doing most of their work in the first half.
Goals from Leon Bailey and Youri Tielemans had given the visitors a healthy two-goal lead after 23 minutes, with in-form striker Ollie Watkins adding a third six minutes after the interval. John McGinn made it 4-0 before the hour mark, and AZ grabbed what proved to be only a consolation through Ibrahim Sadiq midway through the second half.
After a rollercoaster of emotions on a night that began with tears, the youngster went home with a victory and Diaby’s shirt, making it a night he’ll never forget for the right reasons.
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