Swedish club AIK swap mascots for pensioners

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AIK's unique celebration of oldest fans

Children accompanying professional footballers as they walk out of the tunnel before a match is a familiar sight - not pensioners.

But on Sunday, 11-time Swedish champions AIK honoured 12 elderly supporters - all aged between 81 and 96 - by letting them walk out onto the pitch with the players before the top-flight league game against Gefle.

Former Uefa president Lennart Johansson, who is the Stockholm club's honorary president, led them to deliver the match ball.

The fans appeared arm in arm with the home players, receiving a standing ovation from the 13,000 crowd in the Friends Arena.

"It's a lovely gesture," said 96-year-old Ake Jigstedt, the oldest of the supporters. "I've been a member since 1936 and I think this is something extra special."

AIK chief executive Mikael Ahlerup added: "It was wonderful to see the pure happiness and excitement in the eyes of our senior club members as they entered the pitch."

And their was a perfect finale to their day as third-placed AIK beat Gefle 1-0 in Allsvenskan after a late goal from Finnish striker Eero Markkanen.

Lennart Johansson
Lennart Johansson served as Uefa president between 1990 and 2007
AIK
AIK's senior club members were introduced to the stadium before kick-off
AIK
The players and their elderly fans pose for a 'team' picture

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