Standing next to the world's best football players is a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity for most people, if they are lucky. Fifteen-year old Sebastian Blynov was indeed very lucky, although this moment almost did not happen.
When FIFPro staff tried to inform Sebastian by calling the Danish phone number of Sebastian, his mother initially refused to pick up the phone. She did not recognise the strange foreign number of the Netherlands based players’ union ...
Luckily she did answer the phone when the Danish players union (Spillerforeningen) made the call, to inform her son about the prize.
And so Sebastian and his mother Helle did make the trip that they will never forget.
Sebastian – a junior goalkeeper himself - earned the Meet and Greet with the World XI as he was the winner of the FIFPro Prediction Competition, that invited football fans to predict which eleven players will be chosen for the 2015 World XI. More than 45,000 fans participated.
As a reward for his winning prediction, Sebastian shook hands with almost all members of the World XI: Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Paul Pogba, Luka Modric, Andrés Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. The only World XI player missing was Manuel Neuer, as he could not leave his club Bayern Munich’s training camp in Qatar.
“They are a bit smaller than I expected”, Sebastian (who stands 1,85 meters tall himself) admitted. “Except for Pogba...”
As an added bonus, Sebastian appeared in the Ballon d’Or show, watched by hundreds of millions of football fans in 180 countries worldwide. By surprise, show host James Nesbitt took him on stage, so Sebastian could ask his favourite player, Cristiano Ronaldo, what he plans to do when his active football career is over.
Ronaldo said “oof” and then answered that he and his team have a strategic plan ready for that moment.
Nesbitt also suggested that Sebastian took the vacant goalkeeper spot on stage because of Neuer’s absence...
Sebastian’s meet and greet with the World XI and his appearance in the Ballon d’Or show have earned him bragging rights when he meets his school friends later this week. “Last week at school, nobody really wanted to believe that I had won the competition and was going to meet all the World XI players”, Sebastian said. “But now they have to believe me.”
- Published: 13 January 2016