Sunderland Academy footballer's 24-hour passport drama ahead of tour to Italy - and the Alnwick boy still scores a hat trick
When thieves stole his passport the night before he was due to fly to Italy with Sunderland AFC Academy, it seemed like Louis Scott’s dream was over before it started.
However, thanks to a remarkable team effort behind the scenes, the 11-year-old Alnwick boy made it to the tournament in time for the first match – and finished off the fairytale by scoring a hat-trick!
His dad, Zac, said: “He went through the full range of emotions in that 24-hour period.
“He was totally distraught at not being able to get away with the rest of the team, then relieved to actually get there and then, of course, he was over the moon when he scored a hat-trick.
“It’s quite a story and for it to have a happy ending like that makes it all the more amazing.”
The drama began when Louis went to spend the night with his step-sister, Jessica Morrison, in Ashington but her car was broken into and his passport was taken.
His dad, mum Karen and little sister Lexie, had flown out to Lake Levico in the Italian Alps the day before with all the other parents to await the team’s arrival 24-hours later.
“He had to be up at 2am to get the team coach down to Manchester Airport but they woke to find the car had been broken into,” explained Zac. “We got a frantic phone call from my step-daughter who was in floods of tears to tell us but, of course, we were in Italy.
“We decided to get Louis to the Academy and on the coach and in the meantime got in touch with the embassy, consultate and police to say he was on his way.
“Unfortunately the Italian border force wouldn’t let him through. My step-daughter had gone with him to make sure he was safe and they decided to make their way back from Manchester to Sunderland.
“Louis was devastated. The coaches tried to explain there would be other trips but how do you tell an 11-year-old that they can’t go on a trip they’ve been looking forward to so much?
“We said we would do our best to get him out there so that’s when the work really started. We phoned Sunderland AFC and arranged a visit to the Passport Office at Durham and started looking at flights.
“My step-son, Jake Morrison, jumped on a train from Leeds, met Louis at Sunderland, took him to the passport office and then on to Durham Tees Valley Airport where we got them on a flight to Amsterdam and then on to Venice.
“It cost us £1,500 all told to get him out there, with the cost of the passport, flights and a taxi to get him from Venice to our base in the Italian Alps, which was a 2hr 40min drive.
“He eventually arrived in Venice at 10.20pm, got to the hotel at 1.30am and was then playing in the first game at 8.30am the next day.
“He came off at half-time with the team 3-0 up after scoring a hat-trick!
“He usually plays centre midfield or right back but for this game he was made captain and played up front. To then score three goals after the emotional 24 hours he’d had is an amazing story.”
The team enjoyed further victories in the Pulcino d’Oro tournament against the likes of Roma, in which Louis also scored, and Sporting Lisbon before going down to defeat against Juventus.
Louis, who joined the Black Cats three years ago after being spotted playing for Cramlington Juniors, has now been offered a contract with the U12 squad next season.
“I know a lot of people have told us they wouldn’t know where to start if they were in a similar situation,” said Zac. “I was lucky in a way in having had a background in the travel industry so I knew who to contact and where to go but it was still a manic 24 hours.
“We wanted to fly back and comfort him but that would have cost £500 each for flights so we did everything we could to get him out to Italy, even if it’s cost us a bit more. It’s certainly been an experience we’ll all remember!”