everton FC

Father and Son Stay Positive Despite Dream Soccer Trip to England Being Cancelled

Chris and Max Hund surprised by Everton FC star Mason Holgate, who personally called to lift their spirits

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Fathers and sons bond in different ways.

For Chris and Max Hund, soccer has brought them closer together. More specifically, it's a soccer team: Everton FC of the English Premier League.

"It’s really fun to be able to share those kind of sporting experiences with somebody," Chris said. "And so for us, it’s been a way for us to bond. We watch old games online, we look up stats, we have books. It’s something we share."

Ten year-old Max plays soccer, and one of his teammates' parents are from England. For years, the parents have been big Everton supporters, and they passed their fandom on to the Hund's.

This past winter, Everton ran a contest for its American fans. The prize? An all-expenses paid trip for two to watch the team play rival Liverpool. Entrants had to describe why they should win the trip, and when Max found out about the contest, he immediately wanted to enter.

"I thought it would just be kind of cool to enter into a contest of our favorite team, but it was like a one in a million chance," Max said.

"He said, 'We have to enter this!'" Chris recalled. "I said, 'You know what buddy, you never win those things."

But in mid-February, the duo found out someone does in fact win those things.

"I was waiting in line at a store looking at my email, and lo and behold, there’s an email from Everton Football Club that says congratulations, you're a winner," Chris remembered. "I thought this has to be some kind of spam, this isn't real."

"I didn't think it was real," Max added.

The Grayslake residents got everything ready to go. Luggage, passports, etc. On the morning they were scheduled to leave, however, the trip was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A month and-a-half later, as they were still working to shake off the disappointment, Chris and Max got a call from one of Everton's star players, defender Mason Holgate. Holgate wanted the super fans to know they hadn't been forgotten.

"After the call I’m like, 'Dad, who is this?'" Max said. "He was like, Mason Holgate, and I'm like, 'Oh wow'!"

"That was entirely a surprise, and really cool because he’s a young defender, [and] my son’s a young defender," said the 42 year-old Chris.

The nearly eight minute call helped cheer the Hund's up, and so did this: they found out Everton still plans to bring them to Liverpool for a game next season.

"Next year when we go, we get to bring my mom and my sister, and we get to stay for – I’m going to try to convince my dad, for an extra week," Max said with a smile.

"Sometimes if you wait, things are even better," Chris said. "We are going to have that much more excitement, that much more connection to the club. People have been reaching out to us from England, talking to us and talking about how exciting it’s going to be. So I think our excitement level is going to be through the roof."

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