He's no prima donna: Swedish footballer praised for comforting mentally-challenged boy

30 October 2013 / 2 years 11 months ago

For all the money that they pull in from kicking a ball, footballers have been thrown many names. One of those is the prima donna tag, handed to some who act as if they are gods among people.

Thankfully, there are others who are not like that, and go about helping people, like Swedish footballer Kim Kallstrom.

The midfielder has been getting plaudits after he was pictured calming down a mentally challenged eight-year-old boy who was a mascot in a recent World Cup qualifier against Germany, reported 101greatgoals.

Max, the boy who was one of 11 other child mascots who had Williams Syndrome chosen for the game, was visibly shaken after walking out onto the pitch and facing a vociferous crowd in the 50,000 seater stadium.

It was then that Kallstrom, who walked out with Max, squatted down to put his arms around the boy, and provide some comfort to a clearly-anxious Max.

Unknown to Kallstrom, he had made such a big difference in the boy's life that the lad's father wrote in to him to thank him personally.

He wrote in a heartfelt letter: "Because of your actions, my son was able to experience exactly the same feelings as everyone else: pride, a sense of being special.

"I am writing to you because I’m not quite sure if you understand how much of a difference you’ve made to us. Tuesday saw my son Max do something very special, for other children, it’s really about 15 minutes of concentration and nervousness as well as an incredible joy of having been able to meet the national team.”

Apparently, Max had displayed a load of joy after the game, and even exclaimed "I did it" to his father, who included all those anecdotes in the letter.

A measure of the man that Kallstrom is can be seen in his reply via a newspaper interview, in which he said: "Of course I’m pleased that Max’s dad appreciated what I did during the field entrance, but what’s more gratifying is that, despite Max being a little nervous in the players tunnel, together we were fortunately able to make it a very positive experience.”

Kallstrom continued: “In a situation like this I act more like a neighbour and parent than the footballer I just happen to be.

"I realize I have a responsibility to the parents, who probably themselves are a little apprehensive about staying in the stands, but also to the children who enter with us.

"I try to be calm and comforting and it is usually enjoyed by kids.”

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