Felines on the shirt: England's World Cup stars befriend Dave the Qatar cat

Gareth Southgate's team have embraced an unexpected guest at their tournament camp in Doha

England stars Kyle Walker, left, and John Stones with their new dining partner, Dave. Photo: England Instagram account
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England's World Cup football stars have three lions on their shirt — and a Qatar cat in their camp.

Gareth Southgate's side may not have been pitch purr-fect in their drab draw against the USA on Friday, but they are at least winning over the locals, even if it's only the four-legged kind.

England's official Instagram account shared adorable footage of defensive duo John Stones and Kyle Walker enjoying a spot of dinner with a furry friend they have named Dave.

Manchester City player Stones said the surprise guest turned up on their arrival in Doha and has now been adopted as a mascot.

"Big Dave, he's getting big now," joked Stones in a light-hearted video on the national side's account.

"I just fed him before I came here.

"The first day we got there [to the team hotel], we've got a little table around the corner, next minute Dave pops out.

"Then every night he is sat there waiting for his food.

"The other day, actually, he didn't eat all his food and we were bit annoyed with him.

"We think he's getting a bit greedy."

The World Cup contenders take on Wales in a crucial final group match on Tuesday night knowing they will have a little extra moral support.

It is not the first time a pet has come to the aid of England.

Back in March 1966 — mere months before England hosted the World Cup — the gleaming Jules Rimet trophy was stolen.

It was recovered by a trusty dog named Pickles, who has gone down in sporting folklore.

Thieves sent a £15,000 ($17,980) ransom demand to the chairman of Chelsea FC, accompanied by the removable lining from the top of the trophy.

The rest of the cup was found days later wrapped in newspaper by the front wheel of a parked car in South London by four-year-old Pickles, who was out for a walk with his owner.

When England lifted the cup — for the first and so far only time — the heroic canine was a guest of honour at the celebratory banquet.

Doha Dave can surely expect a few more treats of his own if the squad of 2022 triumph next month.

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Updated: November 29, 2022, 1:46 PM