Lad invites four players from FIFA Pro Clubs team to his wedding after they became best mates
A groom invited four players from his FIFA Pro Clubs team to his wedding as they met for the first time ever.
He has been an avid gamer for 17 years but it's proved to be more than merely an activity to pass the time for the 28-year-old.
Through playing online with his team, who are ranked 44th in the world, he's struck close friendships with people who live across the United Kingdom.
It was casual to begin but then they grew closer in lockdown during COVID, where everyone was desperate for that all-important social interaction - whether it was on Zoom or 'house party'.
"We've grown up with the game so I suppose at heart we still think that we are 17, and playing the same game as we were back then," father-of-two Ryan told BBC.
"Me and the boys aren't really the type to be gaming all the time, we've all got lives outside of Xbox and friends and families so we weren't really looking for friends.
"But it was definitely organic and moving to group chats then became a tool for everyone to speak about other things and get a bit closer."
The first in-person meeting was when Ryan, from Cardiff, tied the knot with Alice and they shared a few beverages the night before the big day.
Matt and Scott, childhood pals from Cambridgeshire, were in attendance along with Kesean, who lives in London. Belfast native Gerard had a valid reason for not showing up - his wife recently gave birth.
You could say it was like they had known each other for years, but technically they did in the Pro Clubs lobbies and climbing the divisions.
"It didn't feel anxious or awkward because I guess we sort of considered that we knew each other already and had flirted with the idea of meeting up for a while," Ryan added.
"I'm quite a sensible person. I wouldn't have invited them without knowing them so that is something that people definitely need to be cautious about.
"It's a relationship that has developed over a few years and we even had a virtual Fifa stag for me where we played drinking games and stuff."
FIFA, specifically Pro Clubs, has a tendency to help forge friendships. In FIFA 08, six guys met in a lobby and have gone on to become friends for life and "basically a huge family" - with their spouses also on very good terms.
It really is more than just a game. It's a place to make new mates and a way to positively impact mental health.
Next up for the Ryan and the gang is a Belfast outing for Blink 182's big comeback tour - but we really hope they get a little FIFA tournament sorted.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy & Ryan George