UEFA 'thumbs-up' remembers Stephen Sutton

UEFA staff have paid tribute to Stephen Sutton, the inspirational British teenager involved in the 2013 UEFA Champions League opening ceremony who passed away this month.

UEFA 'thumbs-up' ceremony for UK teenager Stephen Sutton
UEFA 'thumbs-up' ceremony for UK teenager Stephen Sutton ©UEFA.com

UEFA President Michel Platini and UEFA staff members have paid tribute to Stephen Sutton, the inspirational British teenager who passed away earlier this month after a long and courageous fight against cancer which saw him raise almost €5m for charity.

UEFA joined people around the world on Friday in giving a special 'thumbs-up' for 19-year-old Stephen to celebrate his life and achievement in raising vital funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust, a UK-based charity devoted to improving the lives of young people with cancer. "I don't see the point in measuring life in terms of time any more," was Stephen's message. "I'd rather measure life in terms of making a difference."

Stephen, from Lichfield in the English Midlands, was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 15. Rather than dwell on his misfortune, he drew up a list of 46 things he wanted to achieve before he died – one of which was to drum in front of a large crowd.

Mr Platini gives the thumbs-up
Mr Platini gives the thumbs-up©UEFA.com

One of the group leaders for the opening ceremony at last season's UEFA Champions League final at Wembley Stadium in London saw the list and invited Stephen to take part. A film crew followed Stephen throughout the rehearsal process leading up to the match.

UEFA ceremonies manager Julien Pateau was inspired by the teenager. "I met with Stephen a year ago at Wembley," he says. "I couldn't believe how committed he was to following his dream – being part of the 400 drummers we had last year for the opening ceremony. I remember on the eve of the ceremony, his knee was hurting him so bad that he couldn't walk without crutches.

"He was watching the dress rehearsal from the stands with a constant smile on his face and told me: 'Don't worry Julien, tomorrow I'll be there whatever it takes!' Indeed, he took a double dose of painkillers and performed with all his passion for our ceremony. Stephen inspired me. I'm so proud to have met you and to have been even just a small part of your story."