HE never forgot the loyal Saints fans who cheered him from the terraces.

But supporter, Ian Hagens, a 29-year-old warehouse operative from Hedge End, never expected to come face to face with his soccer idol and St Mary’s favourite Marian Pahars.

It had been a closely guarded secret when the stag weekend party flew from Stansted to Pahars’ native Latvia.

The surprise was planned with military precision by Ian’s brother Ryan who weeks before had emailed the Latvian Football Federation. The former Saints star is currently manager of the country's national team.

In an email Ryan explained that they were going to the Lativan capital of Riga for his brother Ian’s stag do.

Ryan wrote: “We are all Southampton Football Club fans. We are massive fans of Marian Pahars. He is classed as an absolute legend of Southampton FC.

“It would be fantastic if we could meet Marian while we are over there and it would make my brother’s weekend to meet one of his all time favourite Southampton idols.”

Daily Echo:

The 39-year-old former Saints striker said he would be prepared to meet Ian and his stag do party if a convenient time could be arranged.

And the star studded soccer meet and great was staged at the Latvian Football Federation headquarters.

Marian chatted about his days at The Dell and St Mary’s and autographed treasured Saints photos and memorabilia.

Daily Echo:

Afterwards Ian said: “It was brilliant that he would take time out of his busy schedule to talk to us.

“He was happy to answer all our questions and gave us a great insight into what it was like playing for Saints and being an international manager.”

Ian’s matrimonial match of the day will be on June 11 at Southampton when he weds his bride to be Louise Jeffery. The couple have a four year-old son Joshua.