Dapo Afolayan paid his respects to Isla Caton and dedicated his goal in Wanderers’ record win to the young West Ham fan who lost her brave battle with cancer.
Isla passed away on Tuesday aged just seven - five years after initially being diagnosed with rare child cancer neuroblastoma.
She had been an avid West Ham supporter, along with the rest of her family.
And Wanderers’ former Hammer Afolayan paid his own tribute after he had scored the Whites’ second goal in their remarkable 6-0 victory over Sunderland.
“I dedicated the goal to a little girl – Isla Caton – who sadly passed away this week,” said Afolayan, who unveiled a shirt bearing her name after converting his 11th goal of the season.
“She was a big West Ham fan and her family are.
“It’s very sad. She fought really hard and I know her mother Nicki and the rest of the family are feeling the loss hard.
"I just wanted to pay respects to her and her life and the battle she fought.
"It does mean a lot to me. Even moving on (from West Ham) Nicki sent me a lovely message so I thought it was only right I repaid that and that goal was definitely for Isla."
Afolayan’s performance and forward partnership with Dion Charles was one of many highlights on a day which saw Wanderers record their biggest ever win at the University of Bolton Stadium.
The 24-year-old was too hot to handle for promotion-chasing Sunderland on his return to the Whites’ starting line-up.
And after his second goal in three games helped Ian Evatt’s men secure a third successive win, Afolayan hopes to stay in the groove and keep in-form Wanderers climbing as they look forward to next Tuesday’s visit of Cambridge United.
“I always know I can score goals. I’ve done it in the past. This season has just been really good,” added Afolayan, who was handed a more central attacking role in support of Charles.
“I’ve been getting myself into better areas. Quite a lot of my goals haven’t been as simple as the one today so I think with this new shape, if I get myself in the right areas I can get a few more tap-ins and I my tally will keep going up.
“It was good to be back in the team. It was a really good performance. It’s been a long time coming.
“I think we deserved that. It came from our hard work and from our togetherness as a group and we took our chances when we needed to.
“It was about the togetherness of the group and you can see what the fans can do us.
“They really gave us a lift with that atmosphere and we wanted to repay that.
“We’ve got Cambridge now and we’ve got to try and replicate our performance levels on and off the ball and our effort.
“I think that’s all the fans really ask for, ask for 100 per cent, and if they can see that they’ll be behind us all the way.
“As a group that’s what we need to do and take it game-by-game and keep this momentum going and hopefully keep going on a run.”
To watch Dapo's post-match interview, click HERE