England may have been knocked out of the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean the team is going home empty-handed. Dave, a stray cat befriended by some of the players at the hotel they were staying at, is headed to the U.K., where he will be rehomed, the Qatar Animal Welfare Society said.
Football player John Stones said that he met Dave when the team first got to the Souq Al-Wakra hotel in the Qatari capital of Doha. Stones said that, after feeding the new feline friend dinner, Dave kept coming back. Eventually, the team named him their unofficial mascot.
“Then, every night, he’s there sat waiting for his food,” Stones wore on Instagram.
Stones even joked that Dave may have gotten a little too comfortable being fed every single night.
“But, the other day, actually, he didn’t eat all his food,” Stones said. “We were a bit annoyed at him. We think he’s getting a bit greedy.”
Teammate Kyle Walker was even asked during a press conference how Dave was doing.
“Dave’s fine,” Walker said. “Hopefully I can stick to my promise where I said that he would come home with us if we was to win the World Cup.”
Despite the team’s loss to France in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Dave was still caught and prepared to be flown to his new home in the U.K.
“As he’s going to the U.K. Dave will be patiently waiting out his 4 months [in quarantine] as he prepares for his new life,” the Qatari Animal Welfare Society wrote on Facebook, adding that he’s “settling into foster care now but will update everyone as his adventure continues.”
Dave isn’t the only stray cat that has made headlines during the World Cup. Another cat interrupted a press conference last Wednesday with Brazil’s Vinícius Júnior by climbing onto a table where the footballer was seated.
But while a few cats briefly stole the spotlight during the world’s biggest soccer tournament, many stray cats struggle to survive in the Middle East, according to the nonprofit TNR Qatar. The organization said that the cats are forced to fight for food and deal with desert heat that can reach over 100 degrees in the summer.
In 2016, the stray cat population in Doha was estimated to be between 2-3 million cats, according to a study from Hamad Bin Khalifa University.