Daniel's doing it for the kids

WELLINGTON Phoenix fan-favourite Daniel has issued a rallying call to kids – get behind the team this weekend.

WELLINGTON Phoenix fan-favourite Daniel has issued a rallying call to kids - get behind the team this weekend.

Sunday evening-s match against the Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium is a big one for the Wellington Phoenix and Daniel has called on the Phoenix-s legion of young fans to drive the club on in its bid to create history by becoming the first New Zealand-based outfit to make the Hyundai A-League playoffs.

A win for the Phoenix against the Jets will be a huge boost for their top-four ambitions as they seek to bounce back from a gut-wrenching 3-2 loss to the Queensland Roar last weekend.

The Wellington club will throw open the Westpac Stadium gates to children this weekend to thank New Zealand football fans for their support throughout the season and to ensure a bumper crowd is on hand to enjoy what promises to be a massive occasion.

The “kids-come-free” match is a special one for Daniel, who is a hugely popular player with the Phoenix-s younger fanbase.

“It-s great that we are able to do this because it-s such a good opportunity for lots of people to come and see us play,” said the Brazilian-turned-Kiwi midfielder.

“We need the three points - this game is very important - and having kids able to come free will be good for a big crowd. It-s so great for the players to have the support at Westpac Stadium and we need the fans there cheering.”

Daniel said the vocal fans played a huge role in spurring the Phoenix on.

“You can here them when you are playing - it-s so loud - and they make you try your hardest. When the fans cheer ‘Daniel, Daniel, Daniel- they really lift me. I want them to come this Sunday and help the team get three points.”

A new New Zealand citizen, he has taken his new home to heart and is passionate about the future of the Phoenix and football in his adopted country.

“Of course, I love this place and I love seeing kids playing football and coming to our games. The kids are learning, playing and supporting football here in Wellington and this is very good for the future.”

Regularly staying on the field to sign autographs long after matches at Westpac Stadium have finished, Daniel hopes to meet all of the children on hand at Sunday-s game. While most players are making sure they stretch their tired muscles after a big match, Daniel-s stretching his signing arm to ensure he doesn-t get writer-s cramp.

“It-s no problem - I love it. The kids are always so friendly and they are always happy to see me, so I want to see them too. They are what make being a professional footballer so special, they are the ones that make me love this game.”

Every paying adult will be able to take a maximum of three children (15 and under) to the game at no extra cost. However, all children must have a ticket to enter Westpac Stadium. The free tickets can be collected on purchase of an adult ticket at the Wellington Phoenix store (corner of Cuba and Dixon streets), Ticketek outlets and Westpac Stadium from midday on Sunday. Those who have already purchased tickets can also get their free children-s tickets from those venues.

Sunday-s big match kicks off at 7pm.