The father of eight-year-old Spurs fan Harry Pankhurst has thanked the thousands of football fans and famous names, including England captain Harry Kane, for their messages of support after his son’s hospital bed rendition of Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur went round the world.
Harry’s dad, Stuart, 38, said the reaction to his son’s performance, as he was recovering at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, showed the generosity of the vast majority of football fans at a time when a series of incidents had dented the image of supporters.
Mr Pankhurst even called in to a radio station discussion on fans’ behaviour to “put them right” and tell his son’s “inspirational story”.
He said: “I had to say something.
“Football fans get the bad publicity but, when it comes to something like this, the support that he’s received has been absolutely fantastic and that’s what I wanted to say to everybody.”
Mr Pankhurst said: “Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham, Millwall, fans from everywhere, basically.
“A lot of them have put that ‘we hate Tottenham but we put rivalry aside for this’.
“It’s been surreal. The messages have been fantastic.”
Harry’s story went viral after his rendition of the song prompted a get-well video message from Kane, alongside his Spurs colleague and French international captain Hugo Lloris.
Mr Pankhurst said Harry had also received messages from a host of other Spurs legends, as the original Twitter video hit more than 717,000 views.
And a shirt signed with a message from Sir Andy Murray arrived on the ward on Monday morning.
Harry, who has a twin, Oscar, was born prematurely at 26 weeks and diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which is fluid on the brain.
He also has cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
About a month ago he was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in a serious condition after contracting an infection in his shunts, which he needs to drain fluid from his brain.
This was just days after having his appendix removed.
Mr Pankhurst said Harry had been subdued after his operation but he knew the Tottenham song “always put a smile on his face”.
He said: “We thought about putting it on to see how he would respond. Before we knew it he was smiling, singing it, which we thought was wonderful.”
He said they had the “crazy idea” of posting the film online and never expected the reaction it provoked.
“From then we’ve just had support from football fans from different teams from all over the world,” he said.
“It’s just been overwhelming, it’s been absolutely fantastic.”
He said: “When I showed him the video (of Kane and Lloris), it put a massive smile on his face.
“It’s made him smile and he’s even been singing that he’s famous now.”
Mr Pankhurst is originally from Enfield, London, and said supporting Spurs runs in his family, despite them living in a village near Lincoln.
He said Harry’s brother Oscar was also overjoyed by the messages, especially as his favourite player is goalie Lloris.
Mr Pankhurst, who works as a marketing recruitment manager for a care company, said Harry was facing another operation but was getting much better.
He said he and his wife, Charlotte, 38, who works as a hospital bereavement officer, Harry’s twin brother, his sister Autumn, nine, and half-brother Joshua, 17 were hoping he would be home within a couple of weeks.
“He’s a little fighter. Every time he had a problem, he battles through,” he said.
He added: “He’s spent lot of time in Sheffield Children’s Hospital. This is the one place he gets the best possible care because they’ve known him for so long.”
Liz Hinde, clinical nurse specialist for paediatric hydrocephalus at the hospital, said: “He’s definitely on the road to recovery.”
The hospital is a specialist centre for hydrocephalus and gives lifelong support to children like Harry.
She said: “He is a legend.
“He’s always putting a smile on people’s faces.”
Ms Hinde added: “Harry and his family have had a really, really tough time since Christmas and he’s been really unwell.
“So it’s been a nice, welcome distraction. And Harry’s loved the idea of being famous.”