Saturday 19 August 2017

There will be at least one Swedish fan in the Irish section today and the story behind it is incredible

Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

An Irish fan has told how he donated a ticket for today's game to his Swedish pal to repay a 34-year-old debt.

Ben Farrell (58) from Co Wexford explained that as a young man he travelled to the World Cup in Spain in 1982.

Ben Farrell Kjell Mansson and Larry Kehoe at a match in 2013
Ben Farrell Kjell Mansson and Larry Kehoe at a match in 2013

With no ticket or transport to the final between Italy and West Germany he had resigned himself to watching it on television.

But a chance meeting with Volvo worker Kjell Mansson in a campsite would lead to a lifetime friendship and a 34-year-old debt that will finally be repaid tomorrow.

"I went to the World Cup in Spain in 1982 and camped there with my buddy. We met a Swedish guy and he got us tickets for the World Cup final for £4.

Ben explained that Kjell had a Volvo 760 at the time and was looking to share the petrol costs of driving from Barcelona to the capital.

"So me and a friend Larry Kehoe from Wexford went to the final in Madrid. And he got us a ticket for £4. We were on the half way line at the world cup final. the least I could do was take a ticket from the Irish coffers and give it to him for Monday night."

"Tomorrow this guy, who is 78, has no ticket for the game. But I got him a ticket. I'm paying it back 34 years on."

He continued: "We developed this friendship with this guy from 34 years ago and that's what football is all about. It's all about heart and meeting people."

Ben explained that he has met Kjell many times since including at the World Cups in the US in 1994 and Japan in 2002. The pair have also hung out at games in Copenhagen and Sweden.

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