THE dad of an autistic football has praised a world-famous football star after he chatted to his son while he waited to collect his pizza.

Diners at Carlisle’s Pizza Hut store on London Road Retail Park were left starstruck when Manchester City and England footballer Raheem Sterling walked through the doors of the restaurant chain on Monday.

Craig Mattinson, 50, and his son Ross, 19, were celebrating a family birthday when they spotted the England forward shortly after 5.30pm.

“We were in Pizza Hut as our granddaughter was having a party,” explained Craig.

“It wasn’t particularly busy. My son Ross is a massive Carlisle United fan and he said there is a guy that just came in, ‘you don’t think it’s Raheem Sterling do you?’.

“You wouldn’t think Sterling would walk into Pizza Hut in Carlisle. I was thinking, is that him, I thought it can’t be.”

The dad and son then discussed going over to speak to the former Liverpool star.

“I said ‘what is the worst that could happen?’, he might say ‘hello, who are you?’.

“We went over and had a big chat about Carlisle United, he asked how we (Carlisle) were doing, obviously we said ‘not very well’.

“Ross said to Raheem that Carlisle played well against Cardiff, so Raheem was thinking about if he played at the Cardiff ground.

“Ross explained that we have a replay on Wednesday and asked if Raheem would help us, he laughed.”

The question on everyone’s lips in the restaurant was ‘what was Sterling doing in Carlisle’.

“He laughed and looked out the window, saying he was camping,” said Craig.

Sterling was very patient and kind to Ross.

“Ross struggles with that sort of thing, so I don’t know if he realised that and put a bit more of an effort. It was really great to see someone as high profile as him.”

Craig has since tweeted Sterling. “I don’t expect to get a reply, but I wanted to say thank you for the way he conducted himself, he was first class.”