The father of England footballer Theo Walcott's girlfriend was the butt of a few jokes today when he was invested as a mayor.
John Slade, who is the father of 17-year-old Melanie, became the 784th mayor of Southampton at a ceremony at the city's Guild Hall.
But his youngest daughter was not present as she is with the 17-year-old Arsenal striker in Portugal where he is in training with the England squad after his surprise selection for World Cup duty.
This did not stop colleagues having fun at Mr Slade's expense as his wife Sheila and daughters Sarah, 22, and Emma, 19, watched with the audience of several hundred.
As his year-long mayoralship was proposed fellow councillor Alec Samuels said he was going to talk about Mr Slade as a modest family man who has done a lot of work for business in Southampton but, he said: "Ladies and gentlemen I am scrapping that - he is about the most famous mayor this city has had in 790 years."
To roars of laughter from the audience Mr Samuels continued: "He is the father of the girlfriend of a footballer!
"I am told he's a rather famous footballer and if and when he starts scoring goals he will be the most famous footballer in the land and beyond.
"The youngest of John Slade's daughters is the delightful and pretty young lady Melanie.
"I am afraid we may not see much of him. He will be spending the summer in Germany, I gather there is something going on there. In the autumn he will be in London attending celebratory dinners. I am told Max Clifford has been engaged."
He told the audience that Mr Slade's wife Sheila may be disappointed because on occasions the mayor may be escorted by "a younger and even prettier woman".
Mr Samuels said: "If a reporter was to see Councillor Slade in the Ritz in London with a dazzling piece of fluff he can say 'that is not a dazzling piece of fluff that's my daughter'. And it will be true."
And then to rapturous applause Mr Samuels said finally: "It's with expectation and pride, and a tinge of envy we present to you with wholehearted support ... Melanie's dad."
Mr Slade then spoke and thanked his wife and children for their support and mentioned that the media had been chasing his family "relentlessly" since news of his daughter's nine-month relationship with Walcott came to light.
The couple met at a shopping centre in Southampton when Melanie was working in a shop.
Since then Walcott has transferred to Arsenal from Southampton in a deal that could be worth up to £12million.
Walcott has not played first-team football for the London club but was the surprise choice to be included in Sven-Goran Eriksson's England squad for this summer's World Cup in Germany.
Copyright Press Association 2006.
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