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Euro football fans reunite in Lisbon as €50,000 claims are denied

After a heartwarming story took a sour turn, eyes started to water again this weekend as football fans Mathis and Anthony Papalinka reunited in Portugal several weeks after their first emotional encounter in Paris.

The story which had begun so well, with 11-year-old Mathis being filmed consoling a devastated Papalinka after Portugal won the Euro 2016 final against France, had been tainted by reports that the boy’s family demanded €50,000 to accept Turismo de Portugal’s invitation for the youngster to visit his mother’s homeland.

Mathis’ mother denies the claim, however, saying she and Mathis only did not come sooner because they were already on holiday in another part of France when they received the invitation.

What’s certain is that the reunion was made a spectacle out of, with SIC Notícias filming a hugely emotional Anthony embracing his younger ‘guardian angel’ in tears at Lisbon Airport.

The TV station then followed Mathis, his mother and Tony during a visit to some of Lisbon’s main landmarks.

Mathis seemed to particularly enjoy a boat trip along the Tejo river, while Papalinka says the trip has opened his eyes to what Portugal is really like.

“Now I can go back and tell the French that Portugal is the opposite of everything they imagine. The Portuguese are warm, welcoming, very nice people and feel great joy in living,” the French fan told SIC.

Papalinka has since returned to France, while Mathis and his mother are expected to spend a few more days visiting the country.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com