LONDON (AFP) - English Premier League side Manchester United have invited the Wild Boars football team, like the Chilean miners rescued in 2010, to visit Old Trafford following their dramatic rescue on Tuesday (July 10).
The final five members of the young football team - four youngsters and their 25-year-old coach - were rescued from a flooded Thai cave after spending 18 harrowing days trapped deep inside, completing an astonishing against-the-odds rescue mission that captivated the world.
The dozen players - aged 11 to 16 - and the coach had already received an invitation from Fifa chief Gianni Infantino last week to attend the World Cup final on Sunday in Moscow - although after their traumatic experience they may not be up to the trip physically or mentally.
Manchester United, though, tweeted an invitation just after the news that all had been rescued and with the Premier League season lasting from August through to May there will be plenty of time for them to recuperate and opportunity for them to take the offer up.
"#MUFC is relieved to learn that the 12 footballers and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand are now safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected. We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season," the club tweeted on its official account.
United - who this year commemorated the 60th anniversary of their own traumatic experience of the Munich Air disaster that decimated the celebrated "Busby Babes" - extended a similar invitation to the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010.
The idea for that invitation which was spread over several days came from Bobby Charlton - one of those who survived the crash and also came from a mining community - and 23 of the miners eventually came with the climax of the visit watching them play Arsenal.
United gave the miners a United shirt with their names on the back, plus the number reflecting when they were lifted out of the mine during the rescue.
Present United manager Jose Mourinho had also given the miners a guided tour at his then club Real Madrid.