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£30,000 car as a thank you gift

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.

James's first thought was that Kapo was joking. 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. 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 £1.5million-a-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.

"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." -DailyMail

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I have just seen this on morning tv here. I think its wonderful. Here we have so called Mr Flash and some kids cleaned his boots week in week out as part of his football life and to get a present like this is totally amazing and has restored some faith in human nature. Thanks Mr Kapo, your gesture is appreciated by all fans everywhere.
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