A NINE-YEAR-OLD Sunderland fan from Northwich has got his trophy wish – and much more besides.

George Henderson was jumping for joy after watching the Black Cats defeat Tranmere Rovers in Sunday's Papa John’s Trophy final on television.

Not only did Sunderland end a 48-year Wembley hoodoo, they produced a first silverware success for a new generation of fans like George who was recently left speechless by a gesture made to him by club captain Grant Leadbitter and Academy manager Lewis Dickman.

"A very special parcel arrived that left me absolutely gobsmacked," said the Little Leigh Primary School student and goalkeeper for Barnton Juniors FC.

"Inside was a wonderful letter and a Sunderland shirt. Not just any old Sunderland shirt!"

In fact, the shirt was the one worn by Leadbitter when he scored the winning penalty in the shootout against Lincoln City that booked the Black Cats' ticket to the Wembley decider.

And the club captain had signed it, too!

Northwich Guardian:

The gift was in recognition of George's 'passionate and enthusiastic' support of the team which came to the attention of Dickman and Leadbitter after the excited youngster's celebration of the semi-final victory was posted on Twitter.

The video clip has been liked 570 times and viewed on more than 90,000 occasions but also attracted some negative 'colourful comments' from a small number of social media users.

The letter, signed by Dickman and Leadbitter, reads: "Your passion and enthusiasm for our football club is something that drives us on each and every day, like countless others, we are proud to call you one of our supporters.

"As a club, we were incredibly disappointed to see that some people on social media responded in a negative way to the fantastic video you posted.

"Throughout the new journey we are on, it is important that we always stick together and support each other through thick and thin. We are all one team.

"Keep supporting the lads and, more importantly, keep being yourself."

In a video, George thanked all involved at the club for the generous gesture as well as fans groups who initiated an anti-bullying campaign on Twitter in response.

"This is why we are Sunderland 'til we die," said George.

"I will never lose faith in this club."

Footage of George and his dad in their shrine-to-Sunderland lounge celebrating the winning goal in Sunday's final was posted by the family.

"It means the world to be able to experience this first trophy win, especially after Sunderland's last Wembley win was 48 years ago. It's phenomenal," said George, who has been racking up media appearances with the likes of BBC Radio Sunderland and ITV Tyne Tees this week.

George's love for the Sunderland club hails from the grandfather he is named after but never met.

His grandad lived opposite the Black Cats' ground, the Stadium of Light, which is built on land that was once home to the Wearmouth Colliery where Paul's dad worked.

Paul's own support of Sunderland has been rekindled by George's passion that first developed after watching triumphant 1973 FA Cup Final footage.

A crucial double save in that contest by Jimmy Montgomery 'ignited' something inside George, who adores and has since met the former Black Cats keeper.

While a variety of footballing interests fill George's time, including devising his own commentary of imaginary games and compiling statistics from current and past matches, he also enjoys reading, playing the piano, riding his bike, gardening, writing letters and playing video games like Minecraft and Soccer Manager.