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Saturday 3 December 2016

Big-hearted German star Bastian Schweinsteiger meets Berkeley victim's family

Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger meets the Schuster family
Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger meets the Schuster family

This is the emotional moment the heartbroken family of Niccolai Schuster - who died in the Berkeley balcony tragedy - met the young man's sporting idol.

Niccolai was one of five Irish J-1 students who lost their lives when an apartment complex balcony collapsed in California during a 21st birthday party last June.

The "sports-mad" Dubliner was an avid fan of German footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger, so much so that his friends wore Bayern jerseys at his funeral in the Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar.

Yesterday, the new Manchester United midfielder took time out before squad training in the Aviva Stadium to meet the young man's family.

He happily posed for photographs, and was regaled with stories of the 21-year-old's admiration of the sport star.

Niccolai's brother, Alexei, wearing Germany's soccer tracksuit top, was all smiles when he was handed a specially commissioned Bayern Munich jersey, with the name 'Nick', and the number one, emblazoned on the back.

Schweinsteiger was one of the first to send a message of condolence after the tragedy that killed six students.

Following the tragedy, an image circulated on social media of the World Cup winner pictured with Niccolai, who was wearing an autographed shirt of the team's famous red and white home strip.

Nick Schuster with Schweinsteiger
Nick Schuster with Schweinsteiger

The young man was pictured with his arm round the footballer, prompting the response.

"The message is making me very sad," Schweinsteiger wrote at the time. "I wish you, the family and all relatives of Nick much strength for this difficult time. I also would like to send my deep-felt condolences to all other people who were affected by this tragedy."

The German captain posted the message online after a request from one of the 21-year-old's friends.

Last July, Schweinsteiger, before a friendly game on United's pre-season tour to the US, joined 18,000 fans at Avaya Stadium in San José, in observing a moment's silence in memory of the six students.

The game, which was about 80 kilometres south of Berkeley, was attended by family members.

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