US fan William’s dream to come true
When FC Bayern play Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, the 75,000 at the Allianz Arena will sing, chant and shout as always, but one spectator will be revelling in the atmosphere even more than anyone else. A visit to the stadium represents a life's dream come true for 15-year-old Bayern fan William Stuhlreyer from Alameda near San Francisco.
"I'll support them like crazy in English and a little bit in German," William declared. He was shouting for joy back in November when the Make-A-Wish foundation, a charity that grants magical wishes to children fighting life-threatening conditions, passed on good news to the family: William, his 17-year-old sister Ellie and their parents Kim and Tom would be flying to Munich.
William suffers from Barth Syndrome, a rare and serious genetic disorder affecting males, with 200 or so confirmed cases around the world. The condition causes heart muscle weakness, immune deficiency and growth disorders. "Lots of people think I'm 10 at the most because I'm so small," said William. He cannot play organised football but does occasionally manage to kick a ball around in his garden.
Passion sparked by a shirt
However, William said, he is totally passionate about sport and especially FC Bayern, ever since his parents returned from a trip abroad bearing a replica shirt for their son. "I like the way they play and their skill on the ball," the 15-year-old said. William watches almost every game on his computer and a club flag hangs on his bedroom wall, although he is unwilling to name a favourite player: "I just like them all. I can't possibly settle on just one."
William will be in Munich for a week. The Make-A-Wish foundation has organised a number of activities for the family, with Saturday's trip to the Allianz Arena as the highlight. "I think it'll be 3-0 to Bayern," William predicted, preparing for an unforgettable afternoon in the stands at the magnificent stadium.