CHRISTMAS came early for some lucky Leigh Centurions fans as star player Ryan Brierley turned up on their doorstep armed with gifts.
The Leigh scrum-half asked fans via Facebook to nominate people who they thought most deserved a surprise visit and his signed boots.
Ryan was so overwhelmed with the response and the touching stories he heard that he spent an entire evening visiting not just one lucky fan but a dozen.
“Some of the tales reduced me to tears,” said Ryan who is rated as one of the hottest talents outside Super League.
“It was a strange feeling to be chatting with fans in their living rooms and listening to their views not just on rugby but on life.”
Ryan said he had been the butt of some negative comments through social media last season and with the backing of his sponsor, grooming specialist Blue Beard’s Revenge, he wanted the chance to show he was just a normal bloke.
“I suffered a lot of abuse on Twitter and you accept it to a point but when it gets personal that crosses the line,” he said.
“I wanted to meet the youngsters who see you as a role model though I can’t get my head round the fact some of them see me as their hero. In fact two children were so surprised they ran off!
“Originally I was just going to give away some signed boots but because of the number of people who replied I also dug out some signed programmes, shorts and training tops. I had to visit all of them.
“I heard about a young lad whose mum had contracted cancer and he stood up to be the main man of the house. I lost my nan to cancer last May so it really struck a chord. He’s the real hero, not people like me. I’m just a normal lad from Westhoughton.”
Fans took to Facebook to thank Ryan.
Paul Robinson posted: “What a lovely lad Ryan Brierley is. Just came and dropped a signed Grand Final programme off for our Ben.”
Other comments praised Ryan’s generosity: “Thanks Ryan! Really do appreciate your visit tonight! You are a credit to the club and fans for all your time dedicated to the play and the fans! Take a bow son!
“Aw thank you so much Ryan Brierley for coming and surprising Freddie.. Might have made my day a little too hahaha - legend!”
Rebecca Carter said: “Thanks to Ryan for the visit tonight along with my chat and my shorts!”
While Tanya Galvin commented: “Just had a visit from this lovely bloke...Ryan Brierley...can’t thank you enough the boys were made up #LeytherLegend#
Ryan starts preseason training on November 9 as Centurions prepare for another crack at reaching Super League.