Meet adorable little Ipswich Town mascot Theo, 5 - who has an amazing story
When little Theo Curtis leads out Ipswich Town as a mascot on his sixth birthday, it will be the perfect present for the Blues-mad youngster.
But after he was born three months premature and weighing just 2lbs and 12oz, it was a day many thought the youngster would never see.
After Theo's unexpected early birth in 2013, mum Rachael Oscroft-Curtis said it was touch and go whether her little baby would survive.
"At that point, because he was so early, they gave me a book on how to cope if your baby dies," she said.
"They said this could happen and that he could have anything wrong with him."
Sick with worry, she had to travel to hospital up to three times every day to see her son while he was kept in the maternity unit for two months to monitor his condition.
With many premature babies having life-long conditions, there was no telling what the future would hold.
"It was quite hard, because we were going to the hospital twice or three times a day and me taking my two and a half year old with me," she said.
But, incredibly, other than some respiratory problems which he still has today, Theo is an otherwise healthy and happy child.
To look at him and to see what his mum describes as his "very crazy, very loud and fearless" character, you wouldn't know of the trauma of his early days.
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Mrs Oscroft-Curtis describes him as a "miracle" child - and when he leads the Blues out against Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road, it will show just how far he has come during his short life.
"Theo has respiratory problems - he still goes to hospital but it's a lot better than it was," she said.
"It was quite unexpected - he just wanted to come early. He was supposed to be born in December but was actually born in September.
"They said that he could have lots of things wrong with him. But they did all the tests and he came out safely."
Theo's respiratory problems do not stop him from playing football, with the Colchester youngster being a big fan of the sport.
He has had an Ipswich Town kit since he was three and is a member of the club's Junior Blues.
Despite a poor season for Town last year, Mrs Oscroft-Curtis said: "He didn't really react at all. He just likes Ipswich and loves to go and watch the games.
She added that "he wants to go and watch them whatever" - although Theo does also sport a Barcelona kit.
As a Junior Blue he has met many of the top players, posing for photos with strike duo James Norwood and Kayden Jackson when the pair visited Planet Blue on Wednesday, August 28.
His favourite player however is captain Luke Chambers after a chance meeting with the skipper at Milsoms Kesgrave.
"Theo went up to speak to him and he calls him 'my mate' now," Mrs Oscroft-Curtis said.
Of Theo's appearance as a mascot on Saturday, September 14, his mum said: "He's a little bit nervous but I think he's looking forward to getting out on the pitch with all the players."
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