Sweden's national football team for the intellectually disabled — also known as "The Unknown Team" — needed 350,000 kronor ($51,000) to travel to the INAS World Cup in Brazil this month. In a desperate bid to raise this considerable sum of money so that the team could travel to the tournament for which they rightfully qualified, staff members reached out to several prominent Swedish footballers for help. They got the likes of Johan Elmander, Kim Kallstron, Andreas Isaksson and Per Nilsson to donate autographed shirts and boots to be auction off towards the cause. Then they asked Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
According to Aftonbladet, Ibrahimovic's response was, "What the hell are you going to do with a shirt? How much is it to go?" And when told the full amount they needed to raise, the national team captain, who was devastated by failing to lead his side to the FIFA World Cup earlier this summer, then asked for their bank account number and deposited all of it.
As a result of making this donation, Zlatan has become the team's official ambassador.
"Football should be played by anyone, regardless of gender, disability or not," The Swedish football federation's website quotes Zlatan as saying. "And when we missed the World Cup, I was deeply disappointed, but when I heard about 'The Unknown Team' I said to myself that I wanted to do everything in my power to help them to experience the World Cup. There was nothing to think about. Now I get to experience the World Cup through them."
The team's manager, Stefan Jonsson, added: “It’s unbelievable, incredible, fantastic. I still have to pinch myself to believe it’s true. Thanks to Zlatan a life-long dream will soon become reality for all of us involved.”
All hail Zlatan: The only footballer who crushes dreams and makes them come true in equal measure.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic