Soccer players Kljestan, Hegardt swap jerseys 12 years after hospital visit wish
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It was a full-circle moment for LA Galaxy’s Sacha Kljestan and Charlotte FC’s Christopher Hegardt when they fulfilled a promise from a 2010 hospital visit.
The two teams played each other Saturday at the Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte FC lost to LA Galaxy 1-0.
But the most touching moment happened when the two players exchanged jerseys after the game.
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Back in 2010, Kljestan visited Children's Hospital Los Angeles and met Hegardt, who was a young cancer patient. Kljestan was a player for Chivas USA and gave Hegardt a jersey. At the time, Kljestan said he hoped Hegardt would one day grow up and give him a soccer jersey in exchange.
Kljestan recently posted pictures of the 2010 visit on his Twitter page.
As fate would have it, Hegardt went on to play soccer at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. before turning pro.
Hegardt kept his word and was able to give Kljestan his jersey.
"The whole thing is crazy," Kljestan said in a post-game news conference. "Like, you visit kids in the hospital sometimes and then you never hear from them again, or sometimes you hear the worst."
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"It cost me nothing to be kind to him and his family that day, and if it just gave him one percent of hope or just made him smile a little bit that day, then it was all worth it," he continued.
Kljestan also commented on Hegardt’s skills.
"He is a savvy little player, and he was getting the ball back on his right foot and trying to make some plays," he added. "I congratulated him after the game and I told him he could reach out to me whenever he wants, if he wants advice or anything like that. I am looking forward to watching him for hopefully a long career."
FOX Television Stations has also reached out to Hegardt for comment.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.