Stuart Dallas and Leeds United continue to be there for young fan who lost his dad

Stuart Dallas says he and the Leeds United squad will continue to be there to put their arms around a young supporter who lost his father in January.

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 5:12 pm
SUPPORTERS: Leeds United's players including Stuart Dallas welcomed Oliver Rahnavard to Elland Road just days after the death of his father Daniel

Along with club captain Liam Cooper, Dallas played a leading role in supporting 10-year-old Whites fan, Oliver Rahnavard, after family tragedy earlier this year. The youngster’s father, Daniel, a Leeds United fanatic, passed away on January 20 and, eight days later, Oliver was persuaded by his uncles to return to Elland Road, where he was given a special reception by the club owner Andrea Radrizzani, staff and players.

Cooper presented Oliver with the shirt and captain’s armband he wore for the thrilling 3-2 win over Millwall and Dallas went out of his way to check how he was doing a week later when he spotted him in the Billy Bremner Suite. Oliver was then guest of honour at Thorp Arch training ground and played pool with the skipper.

Dallas knows from personal experience what a tough time Oliver has been through.

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He says football’s ability to comfort during grief is ‘massive’ and the kindness they were able to show the young fan might inspire him to help someone else in the future. Dallas said: “For a young kid to lose his parent, I know what he’s going through, I’ve been in that situation myself and I know it’s not easy.

“For him to get some comfort from coming to watch Leeds is massive.

“I give credit to James [Mooney, head of communications] and his team; they’ve been tremendous with stuff like that. He came up to the training ground one day and we showed him around. It gives him an incentive to maybe ‘put an arm around’ somebody else.”

Dallas paid tribute to Oliver’s family, who attended the Millwall game en masse to hear a minute’s applause from the Elland Road crowd, and said the squad would be there for him, if required.

GESTURE: Liam Cooper presented his shirt and armband to Oliver after the Millwall game, then invited him to Thorp Arch to play pool.

Both Dallas and Cooper also got in touch with Oliver's uncle Nick Burns, upon hearing the recent news that Nick's mother had passed away.

“It’s difficult for him but he’s got a good family around him,” said the Northern Ireland international.

“And, if he ever needs to come up to Thorp Arch, we’re more than happy to put our arms around him and lift his spirits.”

Supporter interaction is part and parcel of the job for Leeds United players, who come into regular contact with their fanbase at Elland Road and out and about in the city and its surrounds.

It’s something Dallas appreciates and he’s still getting the chance to chew the cud with Whites, from the social-distancing safety of his garden and through technology.

“It’s good – if I’m out in the front garden and somebody walks up past, the majority of them are Leeds fans, they stop and talk,” he said.

“It’s nice to be able to talk about the club and the position we’re in.

“It’s a lot nicer for people to be asking what’s going to happen with everything going on, with us in a great position, than it would be to be talking if we were bottom of the league.

“Social media is good; we’ve a lot of followers because of Leeds.

“I get quite a few requests for video messages and, if you start one you’ll have to do 10,000, so I’ll keep that for a rainy day.”