Youngster with rare illness to be team mascot at FA Cup final

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Brave youngster Joseph Kendrick has been called up for tomorrow’s FA Cup Final.

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez has drafted in the inspirational three-year-old as the club’s mascot for the showpiece clash with Manchester City at Wembley to help support his family’s bid to raise awareness of a rare genetic disorder.

Joseph, from Morley, Leeds, suffers from nonketotic hyperglycinemia (NKH), a condition which disrupts the function of the brain and which just 500 children in the world are known to have.

His parents Paul and Emma have launched Joseph’s Goal in a bid to raise awareness of NKH and hopefully fund research into an eventual cure.

Paul, who is the Wigan correspondent for the local paper, said: “Roberto and some of the players are patrons of ours and the club got in touch to say Roberto had been thinking it would be great if Joseph could be the mascot on Saturday.

“In terms of exposure, this is phenomenal and the biggest thing we’ve had so far – if you think that half a billion people will be watching this worldwide and if just one per cent of them decide to have a look at Joseph’s Goal, it will be fantastic.”

After Joseph was born, Paul and Emma were told it was unlikely he would ever leave hospital.

But Joseph battled back and recently started at a new school.

Joseph’s Goal, supports research being conducted by Dr Johan Van Hove at the University of Colorado – the only researcher actively seeking a cure for NKH.