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Thursday, May 15, 2008

'Thanks for cleaning my boots...have a £30,000 Mercedes': Soccer star's amazing gift to boot boy

After a season shadowing a star footballer, a lucky boot boy might find himself the recipient of some souvenir kit. Or maybe even a pair of the player's old boots.

James McPike got a Mercedes.

The football trainee, who had been assigned to Birmingham City midfielder Olivier Kapo, was stunned when he was thrown the keys of the £30,000 car and told to keep it.

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Nice one son: Birmingham's £300-a-week boot boy James McPike asked if he could keep a pair of Olivier Kapo's boots and was stunned to be thrown the keys to his car

He told him he would struggle to afford the insurance for such an expensive car.

So the French international drove the disbelieving 20-year-old to his home, handed him the spare keys and log book, and then insisted on paying for a year's insurance.

It is believed to be the biggest gift ever given to a boot boy, a type of "football apprentice" who learns the ropes from a senior player and is meant to help out in return.

Looking after the boots used to be a big part of the job, although the role is a little less defined these days.

Generous: Oliver Kapo even paid for the first year's insurance for the apprentice

A club source said James, who signed a professional contract with Birmingham City on his 17th birthday, had asked Kapo for a pair of boots to mark the end of the season.

"He was obviously disappointed when Kapo replied he had taken them home with him," the source said. "He perked up considerably when he was tossed a set of keys."

Kapo, 27, who is on a £1.5milliona-year contract at the recently relegated club, is said to have bought the Mercedes as a "run around" when he arrived in Birmingham last year.

He also has a Porsche and a Hummer.

Although top players command multi-million pound salaries, apprentice players are still relatively lowly paid. James is thought to be on about £300 a week.

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish said he learned of Kapo's generosity only when he saw James driving the Mercedes out of the training ground yesterday.

"It was a magnificent gesture and one that's entirely in keeping with Kapo's character," he said.

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A little something to say thanks: A £30,000 Mercedes similar to the one given to James

"He's been in Italy with Juventus, one of the biggest clubs in the world, but he clearly has not forgotten the time when he was an aspiring professional himself, hoping to go on to bigger and better things.

"As he was in such a generous mood, I asked him what he had done with the house he had left behind in Turin. Unfortunately, he smiled and said he wanted to keep hold of that."

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Apology

On Feb. 2, 2008, the Boston Herald reported that a member of the New England Patriots [team stats]’ video staff taped the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI. While the Boston Herald based its Feb. 2, 2008, report on sources that it believed to be credible, we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed.

Prior to the publication of its Feb. 2, 2008, article, the Boston Herald neither possessed nor viewed a tape of the Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI, nor did we speak to anyone who had. We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification.

The Boston Herald regrets the damage done to the team by publication of the allegation, and sincerely apologizes to its readers and to the New England Patriots [team stats]’ owners, players, employees and fans for our error.

Original here