When Sweden take on England on Saturday in Samara in the third quarterfinal a section of Kenyans will be rooting for two Swedish players they consider their own.
John Guidetti, who spent five years of his formative ages kicking about the ball with kids from the slums of Nairobi and Martin Tony Waikwa Olsson, will be close to the hearts of a few Kenyans who know them.
Guidetti arrived in Kenya in 2002 aged 10 and says his experiences have since shaped his view of life and professional football.
“That period was very important for my development, both on and off the pitch. I played football barefoot in the slum areas of Nairobi and I came into contact with local people and their culture. I still have a strong link with Kenya and every time I go back there I always get a warm welcome,” Guidetti was quoted as saying.
A picture of a white boy in the midst of Kenyan teammates keep popping up in social media, often with an outpouring of love of the lad who would grow to play for Sweden.
The Swedes are known for their robust display backed with a never-say-die mentality, an ingredient that Guidetti may have just found in abundance in Nairobi slums.
Now plying his trade with Deportivo Alaves of Spain, Guidetti started off his journey to stardom at Impala and had a stint at Mathare Youth Sports Association and thereafter Ligi Ndogo off Ngong Road.
Guidetti’s mental strength has helped earn him a slot in fiery coach Janne Andersson’s squad despite a topsy-turvy career that once took him to Manchester City.
Also in Andersson’s squad to face England will be Martin Tony Waikwa Olsson of Swansea City.
The left-back almost earned Sweden a penalty after replacing Emil Forsberg only for the VAR officials to rule it out.
Little is know about Olsson who was born in Gavle Sweden in 1988 to a Kenyan mother, Maggie Waikwa from Kangemi, Nairobi, but now deceased.
Olsson once told Walesonline: “I am very proud of my heritage, my mother passed away a few years ago but we were brought up in that culture and I am proud of being Swedish and being Kenyan.”
“We have family in Nairobi, Mombasa is where we used to live, and we have family in Nanyuki about two hours away.
“My cousins are there and they watch the games on TV, so Swansea City have fans in Kenya cheering them on,” said Olsson whose twin brother Marcus Munuhe Olsson plays for Derby County in England.
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