Kind Kallstrom comforts frightened autistic mascot

Kind Kallstrom comforts frightened autistic mascot (Photo: Andreas Bardell / Aftonbladet)

Kind Kallstrom comforts frightened autistic mascot (Photo: Andreas Bardell / Aftonbladet)

The Sweden v Germany World Cup qualifier last week had it all.

Some of the world’s top footballing talent? Check. Goals galore? Eight. Star turns? Chelsea’s Andre Schuerrle got a hat-trick within 20 second-half minutes.

But days later, a photograph from before kick-off has gone viral online and taken the spotlight from all of the above.

In the shot taken by Andreas Bardell for Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, as seen above, Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom comforts an agitated mascot.

The mascots selected for the game have Williams Syndrome, a form of autism, and one of them- eight-year-old Max- is very sensitive to noise.

So his nerves were perfectly understandable, occupying centre stage alongside some of the sport’s biggest names in front of almost 49,251 people at the Friends Arena.

Kallstrom helped Max through his big moment, which has spread around social media platforms usually awash with negative and cynical aspects of ‘the beautiful game’.

Max’s father Emil wrote to Kallstrom, expressing his thanks. He said: “Because of your actions, Kim, my son could experience precisely the same emotions as everyone else who has been a mascot: pride, a sense of being special, ‘I did it’ and an immense joy.”

Kallstrom said: “Of course, I am very happy that Max’s dad appreciated how I acted. But what makes me happiest is that, although Max was a bit stressed when we came on, we still managed to make it a very positive experience.”

It’s truly a heartwarming story, and a nice reminder that not all footballers are purely self-serving and money-driven…

Kim Kallstrom, take a bow – you are a very kind man indeed.

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