Footballer, Neighbor, Parent

November 18th, 2013 by Andrea Bennett

A Swedish soccer star shows his softer side on the field.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Unless you’re an avid soccer fan, you might not recognize Swedish footballer Kim Källström’s name, but since his picture has gone viral accompanied by a particularly endearing story, there’s a chance you soon will.

According to a story in the UK’s Independent, Källström recently took the time on the field to drop “his macho football persona” and crouch down and comfort an 8-year-old boy. In fact, the boy was one of 11 children with Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that makes sufferers anxious and noise-sensitive. The kids were serving as mascots for the Swedish football team, lining up on the field before the recent Sweden v. Germany World Cup qualifier. After going out on the pitch, the young boy, Max, became distressed. 

Källström bent down to talk Max down a little; a seemingly small act that meant the world to Max’s father, who wrote a letter to Källström to thank him and published it on Facebook. An excerpt:

I am writing to you because I’m not quite sure if you understand how much of a difference you’ve made to us…Because of your actions my son was able to experience exactly the same feelings as everyone else: pride, a sense of being special. Your decision to choose to support Max when he gets scared […] sends so many good messages for us and makes all the difference between success or a failure for Max.”

As these things often go in social media, media outlets soon began picking up the story. Perhaps the most gratifying part of the coverage now swirling around Källström was his response: “In a situation like this I act more like a neighbor and parent than as the footballer I just happen to be.”

It’s nice to see a star remember that he’s human first, and a sports figure next. Have any inspiring stories about people doing the right thing on the field? Share them here, or nominate them for our Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments.