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13 Nov, 2021 15:39

Ronal-d’oh! Young Irish footballer escapes FINE after receiving Ronaldo’s shirt following Dublin pitch invasion

Ronal-d’oh! Young Irish footballer escapes FINE after receiving Ronaldo’s shirt following Dublin pitch invasion

A young Irish girl has escaped a $3,350 fine for running on to the pitch to request Cristiano Ronaldo's jersey upon the final whistle of Ireland's 0-0 draw with Portugal on Thursday.

Eleven-year-old Addison Whelan claims that she was told of the harsh financial penalty after she sprinted onto the field in the aftermath of the World Cup qualifier between the two European sides this week to request that the Manchester United ace hand over his match jersey.

However, Irish football's governing body, the FAI,  have since released a statement to say that Whelan will not face any sanctions after the issue made national headlines.

Ronaldo – who broke Irish hearts in Faro in early September with two late goals to give the Portuguese a 2-1 win against Stephen Kenny's side – obliged the youngster, who turns out for the Dublin team Shelbourne's underage girls side, by handing over the memento – but it nearly came at a significant cost.

Whelan displayed admirable fleet of foot during her pitch invasion, swerving two stewards on her route to the five-time Ballon d'Or winning superstar, who quickly told security to stand down as he offered a hug and then his jersey.

Speaking to Irish radio station FM104, she said that she doesn't regret a thing – except, maybe, the financial penalty.

"I was fined for running onto the pitch. My dad's going to pay it," she said, later adding that her father would be "delighted" if someone stepped forward to offer financial help.

Whelan explained the situation further to another radio station, RTE Radio 1's Morning Ireland: "I jumped over the barrier because I was in the second row. I jumped over the first row and over the barrier.

"Then I sprinted onto the pitch, but there were security guards running behind me and there were another two coming from the other corner, so I just kept sprinting.

"When I saw the other two coming from the other corner, I ran more towards the halfway line so then I could swerve around them, but then they caught me.

"Then I was just screaming Ronaldo's name. He turned around and he saw me and he was telling them to leave me.

"So then I was calling him over. He came over to me. I was just in shock and crying and I was like, 'Can I have your jersey? Please, please. I'm a big, huge fan'. He was saying 'Are you OK?'"

However, a subsequent statement from the FAI has confirmed that no money will change hands after Addison met her hero.

"We want to reassure Addison that, of course, she will not face any fine for running onto the pitch and asking for Ronaldo's jersey," it said.

While it was Ronaldo who captured the headlines after the match, the Old Trafford star was unable to create them during 90 minutes in which he cut a largely forlorn figure in a toothless Portuguese attack which was well-marshalled by the Irish rearguard.

And the Whelan family were clearly thrilled that he was able to make an impact after the final whistle and not before it.

"When my dad saw him taking off the shirt, my dad's face was just in shock," Whelan added.

"I was like 'Oh my God, this is it, this is my dream, it's finally coming true'. That was probably his last time playing in Ireland."