Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has extended his congratulations to the 13 Mu Pa Academy football club members after they were rescued from a Chiang Rai cave on Tuesday.
Mourinho told Russian broadcaster RT that he was amazed at what has happened in Thailand.
“The heroes are there, not at the World Cup – the kids, the divers and everyone involved in the rescue. For me, the World Cup comes second.”
Other football celebrities and English Premiership champions have also expressed their congratulations to the Mu Pa team from Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai.
Arsenal’s German footballer Mesut Ozil tweeted at @MesutOzil1088: “All boys and their coach have made it out of the cave in Thailand safely.#NeverGiveUp”
Fresh from helping France to win the World Cup semi-final against Belgium, Les Bleus’ midfielder Paul Pogba dedicated the victory to the boys on Instagram.
“The victory goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are strong,” he wrote.
Pogba’s club Manchester United announced on Facebook that the Mu Pa boys are invited to a game at the Old Trafford in the new season.
“We would be honoured to welcome the team from the Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season.”
The invitation should bring smiles to the faces of the 12 Thai boys and their coach who were trapped inside the cave in Chiang Rai for more than two weeks.
Former England captain David Beckham also posted on Instagram to salute the rescue team, especially Saman Kunan who died during the operation.
“These boys are heroes, as is the coach, the men and the women who risked their lives rescuing them and the incredible Saman Kunan,” Beckham said.
As they have to spend a week at a hospital for recovery, they are unlikely to accept the invitation from Fifa president Gianni Infantino to the World Cup final in Russia this Sunday.
England’s defender Kyle Walker posted on Instagram asking for the address of the trapped boys because one of the victims wore England’s national jersey.
“I’d like to send out shirts to them. Is there anyone who can help with an address?” asked Walker, whose team will face Croatia in the other World Cup semi-final tonight.
On Tuesday former English Premiership champions Leicester City released a clip saying in Thai “Mu Pa, klab baan” (Wild Boars, come home!).