A FOOTBALLER has stepped in to help a young player after the bike that gave him focus and independence was stolen.

Rio Lovell, 14, would travel to football training in Shotton from Mancot, in Flintshire, on his bicycle - and his coaches and teammates were making a real difference in his life.

But that threatened to come to a sudden halt when his bike was stolen during a training session in Shotton Lane on Thursday evening.

But after a social media appeal, talented North Wales striker Asa Hamilton stepped up to donate a replacement bike to Rio - a lifeline for the lad who has suspected ADHD.

The Leader:

Rio, 14, is a striker for Aston Park Rangers

Asa, who recently signed for Caernarfon Town FC, having previously played for Airbus, Buckley Town and Rhyl FC, saw the appeal from coach Clive Davies.

He tweeted: "I've got a bike the same as that I bought a year ago and ain’t even been on it.

"I’m willing to give him the bike if he can’t get his old one back."

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Asa celebrates a goal

Describing Asa as a "top man", Clive said what the bike means to Rio can't be understated.

Clive said: "The bottom line is he doesn't want a child who can't get himself to football, he won't have it."

"Rio's mum was welling up on the phone because she couldn't believe someone would give Rio a push bike."

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Clive Davies

Clive, who has recently moved to Cefn Druids, was the manager at Aston Park for seven years, working closely with players like Rio to help them both on and off the pitch.

He added: "Rio has been coached by myself for the last few years, it's something he uses to focus himself on.

"I've had to go into school a couple of times due to his behaviour. Because Rio gives 100 per cent in his football, regardless of what's happening in his home life or in school, I try to transfer those skills he has in football into his schoolwork so he can progress better.

"Football is a massive release for him, to play football with his mates. And without his bike, it's gone.

"His bike is his independence, especially with the summer holidays now, it's massive."

Describing the aftermath of the theft, Clive added: "At the end of the session everybody is making their way to the changing rooms or the gate, Rio came up and said 'some man has just stolen my bike'. Everyone was shocked.

"I jumped in my car and went around the Shotton area trying to find his bike, but unfortunately I couldn't. So I had to call his mum Debbie and she was very distressed.

"He rides that bike from Mancot to Shotton for training, he is dedicated to say the least."

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Asa on the pitch

Rio's mum Debbie says the loss of the bike had a big impact on her son.

With Rio to look after along with his three brothers, she said the loss of the bike would have been a big blow to the family.

"His bike is his pride and joy. The bike has given him his own independence. Not only to go to football, but also when he gets angry and wound up he goes for a ride and it calms it down," she said.

"With lockdown it has been hard. This was the first time he had been back to training.

"When Clive brought him home, he was really upset. Because he cannot channel his emotions, it just comes out like anger."

Debbie added: "I want to say a massive thank you to Asa.

"I just can't believe it, that somebody would actually do that. He is somebody who has a heart and is caring. There are good people in the world, and he has shown that."

"I also want to thank Clive who has always been amazing with Rio. "

Asa is due to meet with Rio to give him the bike this weekend.