Germanwings crash: Dalkurd FF goalkeeper on last-minute, life-saving flight change

Michael Walsh
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Dalkurd FF goalkeeper Frank Pettersson

Dalkurd FF goalkeeper Frank Pettersson was supposed to be aboard the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps Tuesday — but his team decided to board different planes at the last minute. 

Crying people arrive at Barcelona airport in Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. A Germanwings passenger jet carrying 150 people crashed Tuesday in the French Alps region as it traveled from Barcelona to Duesseldorf in Germany. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

A Swedish soccer team would have been aboard the ill-fated Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps Tuesday — had they not changed their minds at the last minute.

Players on Dalkurd FF from Borlänge, Sweden, had booked tickets on Flight 4U 9525 from Barcelona but decided the layover in Duesseldorf would have been too long. So the soccer team split up and took three other planes home with layovers.

During layovers in Zurich and Munich, the three groups found out the plane they almost boarded crashed in an isolated mountain range of southeastern France — killing all 150 passengers, including 16 schoolchildren.

“At first, our time was spent calming down our relatives on the phone because they had been worried sick about us,” Dalkurd FF goalkeeper Frank Pettersson said to Yahoo News via email. “Later came shock as the thoughts of the victims onboard on that plane became more tangible.”

The soccer club gave its players people they can call or meet with if they need someone to talk to, he said.

Dalkurd FF’s athletes know they were very lucky to have changed their flights. Their thoughts are with Germanwings customers and employees who were not so lucky.

“We can't even imagine what the families, relatives and friends of the victims are going through right now,” Pettersson said. “All we can do is to send all our thoughts and strength to them on this tragic day.”

RELATED: Yahoo News Germanwings crash blog

Dalkurd FF is a soccer club for Sweden’s Kurdish community. It has fans from the Kurdish diaspora across the globe.

News of the close call quickly spread throughout the world of European soccer.

Oliver Ekroth, a defender for Västerås SK in Sweden, says it was highly unsettling to think about the close call.

“A couple of other guys on my team and I talked about it today at practice,” Ekroth said to Yahoo News. “I don’t think anyone is scared — it’s more of a worrying feeling.”

Västerås SK and Dalkurd FF compete in the same soccer league: Division 1 Norra, the country’s third highest.

Ekroth also expressed deep sympathy for the families who lost their loved ones.

“It's very sad to read about tragedies like this,” he said. “It's impossible to even imagine how this must feel. I'm very sorry for their loss.”

German soccer star Basti Schweinsteiger, who plays midfield for FC Bayern Munich and the German national team, said his thoughts are with the passengers and crew members aboard the doomed flight, as well as their families.

Related coverage:
Europe in shock after plane crash kills 150 in French Alps
Yahoo News Germanwings crash blog
16 schoolchildren believed to be aboard downed plane
Video of Afghan crash mistakenly circulated as Flight 4U 9525

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