Boy, 13, thanks James Milner for ‘turning sad occasion into a nice one’

Footballer James Milner made a 13-year-old fan’s day “extra special” by posing for photos with him at a Windsor Castle ceremony where the boy’s former police officer grandfather was posthumously honoured.

Harry Letts met the ex-England international, 37, at an investiture where the midfielder received an MBE for services to football and charity.

June Johnson, 68, of Finedon, Northamptonshire, said her grandson Harry had been “desperate” to meet the Liverpool player after spotting him at the Windsor Castle ceremony on Tuesday.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Harry Letts with footballer James Milner at Windsor Castle (Richard Dawson/PA)

She said the Champions League winner waited behind to have his photo taken with Harry, who was “over the moon”.

Mrs Johnson and her family attended the event to receive an MBE conferred on her late husband Shaun Johnson.

He was recognised in the late Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2022 following his retirement from Northamptonshire Police after 47 years’ service. He died from cancer in August 2022, aged 67.

In a statement, Milner told the PA news agency: “It was a pleasure to meet Harry and his family at the investiture.

“I was sorry to hear about his grandfather but I am sure that he would be very proud that Harry was there on his behalf.”

Harry told PA: “It was a sad day really but after having a chat with James Milner it was all nice and just lifted up the day for us really, it definitely did for me.

“It turned a sad occasion to a nice occasion for us.”

Investitures at Windsor Castle
James Milner with the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He said he wanted to thank the star “for taking the time to take all the photos really and just waiting for the photo afterwards”.

Mrs Johnson said she approached Milner, who has also played for Newcastle, Aston Villa and Manchester City, inside the castle.

On Wednesday, she told PA: “Harry was desperate to speak to him to increase his street cred with his friends at school.

“And I just said to James, would you mind if my grandson speaks to you and says hello?

“And he said ‘of course not’ and came over and we chatted for a good 15 minutes or so, he asked Harry about his sports, what he did.

“Unfortunately Harry plays rugby not football but, yeah. Harry plays cricket and James Milner used to play too.

“He (Harry) was absolutely over the moon.”

Investitures at Windsor Castle
James Milner with his MBE medal (Andrew Matthews/PA)

She said Milner hung around to pose for “loads” of official photographs with Harry “which was marvellous”.

Harry supports Leicester City FC but said he mainly follows Northampton Saints rugby union club.

Mrs Johnson added: “It was nice to know that he (Milner) was a real person and it made the day extra special.”

Mrs Johnson said she was “very emotional but very proud” to receive the award on behalf of her husband of 37 years.

She added: “Harry was also allowed to come up to Prince William with me as well, just in case I fell apart basically.”

Harry said he shook William’s hand and he was “really nice”.

In June 2022, Chief Constable Nick Adderley of Northamptonshire Police said: “Shaun has dedicated his life to helping the people of Northamptonshire, with a career spanning nearly five decades both as a police officer and latterly as a member of staff.

“His career as an officer was varied and makes for a fascinating read, but what stands out the most is Shaun’s desire and commitment for positive change.

“And at the heart of all his dedication and hard work, and everything he has achieved, has been his passion to improve the lives of the people of Northamptonshire.”