Southend United captain Ben Coker proved to be the perfect World Health Day inspiration and role model for a diabetic Blackburn Rovers-supporting youngster following Saturday’s League One encounter at Ewood Park.
Primary school pupil Logan Prince is a virtual ever-present at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Football Camps and Premier League Kicks sessions, with the charity’s staff trained in how to assist him if his Type 1 diabetes poses any problems for him whilst taking part.
However, this doesn't seem to hold Logan back, and his talents have seen the Community Trust recommend him to the development centre sessions linked to Rovers’ Academy.
With hopes of making his mark in the game, Logan and his mother Joanne approached Coker on Saturday after Saturday’s fixture – which coincidentally fell on World Health Day – so that they could ask the best-known Type 1 diabetic in English professional football if he had any hints and tips on how to manage the condition as a high performance athlete.
They were delighted with his response, with the Blues skipper taking plenty of time to talk about medication, football, school and advice on how to control his bloods during matches in a lengthy discussion.
Logan's mother Joanne - who is a talented artist that has decorated a number of the family facilities at Ewood Park - spoke highly of 28-year-old Coker's care for her son, explaining:
"As someone who has been able to manage the condition alongside the demands of being a professional footballer, we've described Ben as being Logan's 'Type 1 hero'.
"It made Logan's day that he stopped to chat for ages about all kinds of things, even down to whether he was undertaking multiple daily injections or an insulin pump, with Ben having managed the same type of diabetes since he was 15.
"He's an absolute top bloke, inspiration and role model - we're delighted he was able to spend so much time with us."
Adrian Ward, head of marketing and communications at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, added:
"It was a really unusual coincidence that the conversation about managing a medical condition happened to fall on World Health Day, but it was a perfect example of how professional footballers undertake kind gestures on a daily basis that make a huge difference to the supporters.
"After being on the wrong side of a tight defeat, you wouldn't have blamed Ben for wanting to get back on the coach home as quickly as possible, but it speaks volumes for him as a leader that he was willing to spend so long chatting with fans of the opposing team to talk about health matters. That conversation can potentially make a huge difference to Logan and his family as he hopes to do as well as he can in the world of football.
"Ben was a credit to Southend United and we're very grateful that he took so much time to help a Blackburn Rovers-supporting family."
Ben's conversation has already gone viral, with a photo of his meeting with Logan having already received more than 500 likes and 60 shares across various social media platforms.