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‘I kiss both arms before every game’ – Swansea star Jamie Paterson reveals heartwarming tribute contained in tattoos

JAMIE PATERSON will this weekend kiss both arms in memory of his late grandmother as Swansea take to the field against Plymouth.

The striker, 32, has never forgotten the love he received from Ivy while he was a kid – and has a number of touching tattoos in tribute.

Jamie Paterson with a framed photo of himself as a kid, his nan Ivy, dad Stuart, granddad Ron and dog Penny

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Jamie Paterson with a framed photo of himself as a kid, his nan Ivy, dad Stuart, granddad Ron and dog Penny
Jamie Paterson has had a tattoo of the photo inked onto his right arm

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Jamie Paterson has had a tattoo of the photo inked onto his right arm

One of them is of a young Paterson with his nan, her Yorkshire Terrier Penny, grandfather Ron and dad Stuart sitting on a sofa – which has been taken from an old family photo.

While another is a beautiful silhouette of the Swansea star as a little kid holding hands with his grandmother – as well as her name, Ivy.

And, touchingly, he has a sentence tattooed that reads: “I have an angel in heaven that watches over me – RIP Nan.”

She passed away after suffering cancer around the time Paterson was starting secondary school but the bond they formed will never be broken.

He told SunSport: “I always kiss my tattoos before games and again if I score. It makes me feel good and they bring me so much comfort.

“It might sound mad but I talk to my nan all the time. In fact, a couple of weeks ago at the Southampton game, it would’ve been her birthday. I told her, ‘I’m going to score for your birthday today’ and that’s exactly what happened!

“Although we lost 3-1, it was a nice little gift for her. Stuff like that is always happening, which makes me believe she’s with me.”

Paterson was brought up in Coventryand lived for a chunk of his childhood with his paternal grandparents from the age of five until around 11.

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He said: “I went to a primary school next to my grandparents because the ones near my home weren’t great so ended up living with them. I was with my nan almost 24/7 until she started getting ill – as well as with my aunt and cousins.

“We’d do the usual things like going to the park or my grandmother would come to my football games.

“There was also a park near her house where I used to always play football. I remember getting goal-posts one Christmas and always causing carnage around the local estate.”

Paterson fondly remembers how selfless his grandmother was.

A touching silhouette of a young Jamie Paterson with his nan Ivy

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A touching silhouette of a young Jamie Paterson with his nan Ivy
Jamie Paterson's loving message about his grandmother

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Jamie Paterson’s loving message about his grandmother

And, while suffering cancer, she even cared for his ill grandfather.

He said: “Nan would do everything for me. She didn’t have money so wasn’t showering me with gifts or materialistic things – it was her love and care – that was massive to me.

“They didn’t have a car. I’m not sure if they had even been abroad on holiday. But if they were still alive today, I’d make sure they’d be sitting on a beach in Barbados!

“My grandfather had stomach problems and had to have half his liver removed – and yet she was doing everything for him, even while, as I later found out, suffering from cancer herself!

“She had great manners and was popular around her neighbourhood. They still speak fondly about her today.

“Everyone would pop round for a cup of tea. Back then we didn’t have the internet like today and people actually met and spoke to each other rather than through phones or social media!”

Paterson was too young to understand and know about the disease when his grandmother was first diagnosed with breast cancer and had an operation.

But he does remember her declining health when the cancer returned a second time.

Having the tattoos brings a lot of comfort to the Swansea star

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Having the tattoos brings a lot of comfort to the Swansea star
Jamie Paterson kisses his tattoos before every game and when he scores

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Jamie Paterson kisses his tattoos before every game and when he scores

He said: “I was too young the first time to understand and her breast operation was hidden from me.

“But unfortunately it came back and at that stage I did notice her health declining.

“You could see she was losing weight and wasn’t as active. She used to walk me all the way up the hill to the school gates but towards the end she’d wait at the bottom while I walked half a mile up.

“Now that makes me realise how ill she must have been at that stage.”

Paterson still feels emotional after all these years when he reflects on his grandmother’s heart-breaking final days.

He said: “I was going to walk to my nan’s but one of my mum’s friends came to the school to tell me, ‘You’re coming back with me today.’ It was at that moment I knew something was up and she told my nan was ill and had gone to hospital.

Swans raise funds for cancer charity

TODAY’S home game against Plymouth has been dedicated to raise awareness and funds for nationwide cancer support charity Maggie’s.

It makes up part of the season-long ‘Tackling Cancer Together’ campaign, which covers all facets of the disease’s journey including diagnosis, mental health impact and the financial struggles that can occur.

The Swansea branch alone needs £750,000 a year to operate.

And Paterson said: “It’s massive for people who are ill and their families and friends – including when they have lost a loved one.

“My parents broke up in the aftermath of my nan’s death and maybe if Maggie’s had been around then they might have stayed together with their support. Who knows?

“But it’s vital this great charity can continue doing its work and this is something I’m passionate about.”

Swansea will be playing in a special one-off home kit shirt dedicated to the charity, with match-worn ones being auctioned off to raise funds.

Each warm-up shirt will include the names of someone in the Swansea City family who have either suffered cancer or passed away.

Club legends Alan Curtis and Kev Johns, who both survived, and ex-player Kevin Austin, who passed away, are among those honoured.

“I remember visiting with my parents and she was in bed, awake but not too much.

“And then I remember a couple of times I visited alone and just sat holding her hand, which was freezing. She just slowly deteriorated to the point where she wasn’t really conscious, she was just breathing heavily. That was the toughest part for me.

“When we received news she had passed away, I had never seen my dad cry so much. He was a hard man who never got upset – but was in bits. I also cried at the time. I can’t describe the feeling but it was something I’ve never experienced before or since.

“In the space of six months, we lost both my grandmother and grandfather. The knock-on effect of all that was awful.

“My dad had started going to the pub every night, which he never did before, and eventually my parents split up.

“It was a hard time – and going to school actually proved to be a release for me. It was a happy place.”

But Paterson has a wonderful thing to hold on to. Not just that he had a mutually loving relationship with his grandmother but that she predicted his future shortly before passing.

He said: “She said days before dying that I would make it as a professional footballer.”

And so he has. The striker went on to play for Walsall, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City as well as loan spells at Huddersfield and Derby – while this is his third season with the Swans.

Just like one of his tattoos, he says “She’s still here watching over me and I think she’s very proud.”

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