Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson and Kieran Dowell strike heartwarming friendship with brave fan battling illness

For all of the drama associated with football, the sport has again proven that it can be a force for good and change people’s lives for the better.

One Sheffield family have revealed a touching story involving two Sheffield United players, Dean Henderson and Kieran Dowell, who have devoted their time to help one Blades fan during his battle with illness.

Harri Parker, 9, was born with a congenital heart disease and has undergone three separate open heart surgeries to try and cure the problem. The condition, known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, has prevented the lower pumping chamber of his heart from fully developing.

Harri’s story is well-known by the club and he was recently invited to be the club’s mascot, walking out with the on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper. He previously struck up a close bond with former Blades forward Caolan Lavery and has now done so with their two Premier League loanees Henderson and Dowell.

Lifting spirits

His mother Jeni told the Star: "Dean, Kieran and Caolan do so much behind the scenes with Harri. He just sees the video as three mates having a laugh, and that's exactly what it is.

"The lads are amazing, and he loves their visits. He always gives them a cuddle and tells them he loves them. In his eyes, Dean, Kieran and Caolan are his best friends, who just happen to play, or have played, for his football team.

"They sit chatting about school and his visits to hospital or Bluebell Wood. They have a laugh at each other and play computer games. It all feels very normal for Harri, which is what we try and make every day."

There have been a number of fundraisers set up in support of Harri, including from Sheffield United supporter Dave Ward after he heard about the story.

Ward said: "This is going to a challenge for me but nothing like what Harri has been through. "At just days old he underwent 15-hour open heart surgery and the surgeon lost him several times. He then had 14-hour and 12-hour surgeries and has undergone countless more, but he's a warrior and never gave up.

"Like myself, Harri is a big Blades fan and us Blades have followed his story and really took Harri into our hearts."

The actions of Henderson and Dowell have given yet another reminder of the role footballers can play in the lives of many, particularly those of a younger generation. Their time has helped a family at an unimaginable time, helping shine a light and bring smiles to faces of those less fortunate than themselves.

For the bad rap that footballers often get, the two youngsters have given a reminder that there is plenty of good left in a profession which so often reaches the front pages.

Bet £10 & Get £40 in Free Bets! ☘️
New customers only, place a €/£10 bet on any Sports market - min stake €/£10, min odds 1/2 (1.5) & get €/£30 in free bets + a €/£10 free bet on in-play Horse Racing. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. Free bets are valid for 30 days and must be used on a Sports market. After the the qualifying bet has settled, €/£30 in free bets will awarded automatically & in-play racing free bet will be available to claim from the promo hub. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus

Free Bets & Offers

🚀 Bet £5 Get £20 in Free Bets!
FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY. ODDS OF 1/1 OR GREATER. 2 X £10 BET TOKENS. FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS. FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE. NO FREE BET EXPIRY. ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS. FURTHER T&CS APPLY. 18+. BEGAMBLEAWARE.ORG
Claim Bonus
Bet £10 on Sheffield United v Arsenal and get a £5 FREE BET for each and every Champions League match on Tuesday!
New customer offer, min £10 single Sports bet, min odds 1/2 (1.5), on Sheff Utd v Arsenal, Monday 21st Oct, 2019. Deposits using credit/debit cards or PayPal only. Free bets are limited to one match and are awarded after the qualifying bet has been settled. Free bet stakes not returned with winnings. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for us upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🏆 Get a RISK FREE bet on any sports market up to £20 - money back in CASH if it loses! 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your FIRST bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is €/£20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. 18+|Gamble Aware.
Claim Bonus
GET A £20 RISK FREE FIRST BET!
New customers only. Sportsbook bets only, minimum odds 1/5 (1.2). Refunds are awarded as CASH, up to a max of £20 . Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal are eligible. Qualifying bet must be placed and settled within 30 days of account opening. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & Get £30 in Free Bets 🌟
New customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet add odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 free sports bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 casino bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the casino bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Credit/debit card deposits only. Geographical restrictions and T&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly.
Claim Bonus
⚫️ £30 Welcome Offer! ⚫️
*New UK & Ireland customers only. Min Deposit: £10. First deposit matched up to £30. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Credit Card, Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. Full terms apply.
Claim Bonus
Bet £10, Get £20 In Free Bets
New members only. £10 min deposit and bet, placed and settled at 1.50 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Awarded as 2x non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens. Valid for 14 days. Sportsbook only. Click for full rules.
Claim Bonus
Bet £10 on Football Get £40 in FREE BETS and BONUSES
New customers only. 18+, BeGambleAware.org. Minimum deposit £10. UK customers only. Place a £10+ bet on football of odds 1/1 (2.00) or greater to receive your 4x£10 in football free bets. Free bets will expire 7 days after your qualifying bet is settled. £10 Casino bonus will be credited the next working day after you have deposited. Casino bonus must be wagered at least 35x before any withdrawals can take place.
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.