Jason Demetriou surprised a young Blues fan last Friday to give him a special send-off from Seabrook College along with a gift to remember.
14-year-old Kieran Raby, a massive Blues fan and season ticket holder, has been a pupil at the college, which supports children with behaviour problems, for the last six years and today starts full time at Greensward Academy in Hockley.
It’s the result of the hard work Kieran has put into his lessons and behaviour which has seen him move back into mainstream school.
And Blues right back Demetriou was first to wish him well on his new adventure with a signed, match-won, shirt, much to the shock of Kieran.
“I knew nothing about Jason coming down but thank you very much for coming and giving me the signed shirt,” he said.
“I’ve found it a bit difficult at times but I’ve got through it and I feel like I’m ready to go on a new adventure to Greensward Academy and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I want to say thanks very much to the headteacher and all my other teachers for giving me a massive opportunity.
“Him and everyone put their 100 per cent effort in every day to keep the problems down and they’ve done a very good job.”
Seabrook headtheacher Dave Cook was Demetriou’s coach at Leyton Orient where the Cypriot began his career.
Demetriou openly admitted he wasn’t the best behaved when he was younger and was delighted to be on hand to wish him well for the future.
“It’s a massive achievement getting back into mainstream,” he said.
“When Dave first asked me to come down and get involved it was a pleasure really.
“Dave has been massive for me in my career because there was a time when it was make or break.
“Orient were going to let me go; I think I had spoken out of line when I shouldn’t, but it’s thanks to Dave who believed in me and gave me the chance. I haven’t looked back since then.
“Well done to Kieran and for everyone else let’s get a few more of you back.
Mr Cook explained the significance of the day for Kieran, the work him and his staff do and the role model that Demetriou is, not only Kieran but other students.
“Days like today are important days because we’re talking about students getting back into mainstream after they’ve had a few problems,” said Cook after the assembly on Friday afternoon.
“They come to us with either social or emotional health disorder or have been permanently excluded from another school.
“Kieran’s been with us for six years but to see him going back to a mainstream school is great for Seabrook College, it’s great for the student and it’s great for the family.
“Seabrook College is getting better every day, it’s moving forward. We are moving towards academisation with Parallel Learning Trust and therefore we’re looking forward to the day we move to a new building in the local area.
“It’s great that he [Demetriou] gets involved and Southend United allow their players to come into the school.
“He’s been down a few times already but he comes in off his own back which is a credit to him.
“Each time he comes in he gets to know the kids.
“It’s important that these kids see these professional footballers and it’s nice for him to come to this school and give his time up freely which Jason is always willing to do.”