All 12 Thai boys & their coach safely rescued from cave ordeal

The Thai Navy Seals have confirmed that the rescue effort has been successful, with Manchester United also sending a special message

All 12 children of the Thai Wild Boar football team and their coach have safely been rescued from the cave ordeal that had seen them trapped for over two weeks, the Thai Navy Seals have confirmed.

The children, ranging between the ages of 11 to 16, had been stuck over two miles inside the cave system in Chiang Rai after a sudden downpour prevented them from making an escape.

Rescue efforts bore fruit on Sunday as four of the children were pulled from the ordeal, while an additional four were added to the rescue tally on Monday.  And the operation to rescue the remaining children, plus their coach, was completed on Tuesday, the Thai Navy Seals confirmed.

An update on their Facebook page read: "12 boars and their coach leave the cave and everyone is safe."

Rescue commander Narongsak Osotanakorn had stated his hope that Tuesday's mission to extract the final group of children and their team coach would be quicker than the two previous days, with confirmation of the rescue coming just before 7pm local time in Thailand.

And Manchester United were quick to react to the positive news of the children's safety, releasing a short statement via Twitter to invite the team to watch them play at Old Trafford in the upcoming season.

They wrote: "[Manchester United] is relieved to learn that the 12 footballers and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand are now safe.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected. We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars football club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season."

In a similar gesture, Manchester City and England full-back Kyle Walker tweeted to reveal that he planned to send shirts to the boys. He wrote: "Amazing news that all of the Thai kids are out of the cave safely!

"I'd like to send out shirts to them! Is there anyone who can help with an address?"

Indeed, news of the boys' plight reached all corners of the globe, with FIFA chief Gianni Infantino having pledged to invite the Wild Boar Academy to the World Cup final if they are deemed well enough to make the trip.

"On behalf of the international football community, I would like to join you in expressing my deepest sympathies and support to the families of the players and coach, as well as my solidarity with the people of Thailand at this time of great concern," Infantino wrote in a FIFA statement.

“I hope that in some way our words of support may help bring them a little peace and courage in these difficult moments of uncertainty and concern.

“If, as we all hope, they are reunited with their families in the coming days and their health allows them to travel, FIFA would be delighted to invite them to attend the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow as our guests.”

The Thailand FA responded to Infantino, thanking him for his offer but saying the condition of the boys must be taken into consideration before any decision is made. 

"FA Thailand appreciates Mr. Gianni Infantino's goodwill for supporting 13 trapped young footballers by inviting them as FIFA's guests in World Cup 2018 Final," the organization wrote in a Facebook post.

"The FA still keep our eyes on their situation closely. However, any action regarding Mr. Infantino's invites needs to consider many factors, such as appropriateness as situation unfolds, invitee's intention, doctor's opinion, parents opinion, traveling and all the things - the same way with any activity that needs member associations to coordinate.

"FA Thailand believes that their health condition, both physical and mental, needs to be the top priority."

And Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, a doctor representing the Ministry of Public Health, has suggested that a trip to Russia will not be possible.

He told reporters: "They're obviously in the quarantine phase, which takes time. But we will manage to get them a TV for that [watching the World Cup final]."