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Tigers take Nate into their hearts

Tigers sing happy birthday Richmond sings happy birthday to Nate Anderson after the round 15 match against St Kilda.

Popular Richmond veteran Jake King has spoken of the emotionally-charged time he spent with seriously ill, young Tiger supporter Nate Anderson late last week.

King and his teammates made it a dream come true for the brave little boy from Perth, who turned five yesterday (Sunday, June 29).

Richmond flew Nate and his family to Melbourne, so he could be a special guest at last Saturday’s clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.

After the match, which the Tigers won by 44 points, Nate joined the players’ inner-circle in the rooms, as they sang the Club’s theme song, before delivering him a little surprise.

“It’s been a tough few days,” King told 3AW post-match.

“We got a phone call and a letter on Monday and got called into the Club.  They said there was a young boy over in Perth, who’s not doing too well, and the hospital had actually sent him home.

“It was a pretty tough moment for the parents to hear, and also tough for him going further down the track.

“They said that I was his favorite player and asked if I could sign a jumper for him and do a cross. 

“I wasn’t playing this week and I thought there was a good opportunity to actually go for a fly over and give him the jumper myself.

“The Club actually put their heads together and said, ‘let’s go a step further’.

“I was lucky enough to fly over Thursday, have lunch with him on the Friday, and get to know him and his family.

“We brought him back to Melbourne.  Virgin (Airlines) were amazing with it.  They flew him over business class and looked after him extremely well.

“The Club (working with the Accor Group and Hotel Ibis) put him up in a hotel room for a couple of nights and we’ve got him to the game.

“The boys were absolutely amazing.  They welcomed him with open arms and brought him into the song,  Jack (Riewoldt) was outstanding with it. 

“They got around him, they sang the (theme) song, and ‘Cotchy’ (Trent Cotchin) has popped up with a cake, because it’s Nate’s (fifth) birthday tomorrow, and the boys sang ‘Happy Birthday’. . .

“He’s had the time of his life today, and it’s an experience I think his family will remember forever.

“It’s a thing as footballers, we get a bit of power in our hands, being professional athletes and, if you can do this for someone who is in a stage and position that Nate is, then I’m pretty sure any player will actually put their hand up.

“We look at football and say we’re living the dream . . . I guess waking up in the morning and taking that first deep breath, everyone’s pretty much living the dream . . .”

King admitted to nearly being overcome by emotion during his time with Nate.

“When you’re trying to help out the kid as best as you can, it’s actually very touching and, to be honest, there’ve been moments where I’ve struggled to hold it together, because you don’t wish this upon anyone, and you don’t ever want parents to go through this sort of thing,” he said.

“So, just being someone who they’ve asked to put a smile on his face, that’s touched me in more ways than one, and it means a hell of a lot.

“I’ve done bugger all, to be honest.  Just to put a smile on his face, it’s a massive thing for me, and I’m rapt to help out in any way possible.”