Barcelona players have paid tribute to a wounded victim of last month’s Florida high school shooting by sending him a signed shirt while the Spanish football club has invited him to meet the team and publicised a crowdfunding campaign to aid his recovery.
Anthony Borges, who spent time at Barca’s youth academy in Fort Lauderdale in 2016, was left paralysed by injuries sustained during the attack inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where a gunman killed 14 students and three teachers.
“Anthony Borges … has received a club shirt signed by the first team players this week. And it’s a gesture that he most certainly deserves. For the 15-year-old of Venezuelan origin is a true hero,” Barca said in a statement.
The club hailed the 15-year-old’s actions in helping 20 classmates take refuge during the shooting, receiving five bullet wounds to his back and limbs in the process.
“Thanks to his gallantry the death toll, horrific as it already is, was not much higher,” Barca said.
“One of Anthony’s greatest dreams has always been to travel to Barcelona and meet the first team. And as the club told his father, Royer, on the phone this week, it would be more than happy to help with that.”
The La Liga leaders also released a video on their website (www.fcbarcelona.com) showing players, including record goalscorer Lionel Messi, signing the shirt.
The statement added: “Royer Borges has opened a crowdfunding site on go.fund.me to raise money for his son’s medical expenses and the response has been wonderful. He has already received half a million dollars and Barca is helping by offering its own media to get the message out.”