Early Doors

Second tier match postponed to let star appear on Swedish X Factor

Early Doors

Football fans in this country are always up in arms when a match gets switched to a different time for the sake of TV coverage.

But if you think shifting a match to Sunday lunchtime is bad, wait until you hear this amazing story from the Swedish second division, the Superettan.

That's because promotion-chasing GIF Sundsvall have had a match postponed because one of their star players is competing in the Swedish version of X-Factor.

Meet 24-year-old Kevin Walker, who has two talents in life: terrorising defences as an attacking midfielder, and sitting on a stool playing an acoustic guitar while crooning away to fans.

Walker was born and raised in Sweden but has an Irish grandfather, in case you're wondering where his rather un-Scandinavian name comes from. And his combination of a fine voice, film star looks and footballing background has made him a huge hit on the Swedish programme.

And that has led broadcaster TV4 to pull a few strings and ensure that their most bankable asset doesn't have to choose singing over football.

How can they do this? Because TV4 not only shows 'Idol', it also owns the rights to show matches from Sweden's Superettan.

"I'm living a Bruce Wayne life at the moment," Walker told news agency TT referring to the Batman character.

"I play football during the week, and then take part in 'Idol' at the weekend. It's different for me than the other participants."

TV4's head of sport Emil Osmanbergovic told news agency TT that, "there will be no clash with 'Idol',"with Sundsvall's televised match at Assyriska having been put back to October 20.

Asked if it was possible to combine the talent show with professional football, Osmanbergovic said it was, "as long as the TV company owns the broadcast rights for both events."

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Kevin Walker in action for Sundsvall (left) and crooning on reality show 'Idol'

Needless to say, Superettan rivals Degerfors - who are battling Sundsvall for promotion to the top flight - have been critical of changes to scheduled matches.

"It's ridiculous, TV can do whatever they want," midfielder Niklas Kllingberg told newspaper Sportbladet. He has a point: Sundsvall are third on 49 points with five matches of the season left, with Degerfors fourth on 45 points. The postponement could mean that Sundsvall end up having the luxury of knowing what they need to do ahead of their final match of the season.

Outspoken Sportbladet columnist Robert Laul - who abandoned a promising career as a player to become a sports journalist - said the move was "unprecedented in Swedish football history.

"If one looks at Kevin Walker's individual responsibility, it's obvious that football should come first. He has an employer, team mates and paying fans that he should respect and be loyal to," he added.

Back to the X Factor stuff, though: as you can see from the video above, in which Walker sings his rendition of 'Soldier', he's pretty darn good.

For those of you who don't speak Swedish, this is the clip from his audition, in which he said it'd "mean a lot" to get through and "see how far my music can go".

He then got quizzed by the judges, with the blonde lady in the skull necklace asking him if "he scores goals as easily as he sings". To which he says yes.

Then, the crazy looking judge with the mental beard has the temerity to criticise his look, saying it's "not much fun to watch someone singing on stage who's looking like a footballer".

The bald-headed biker dude puts everyone straight, however, telling Walker that the only problem he'll have is giving up football.

"In my opinion you should say goodbye to GIF Sundsvall. You should do it right here, in front of the entire TV audience," the goateed-one proclaims.

Only time will tell what he does - but with only five matches left to go before the end of the season, Walker's reply - that he'll try and do both for now - seems pretty sensible.

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