Before Germany's European championship qualifier with Georgia, two of the team's players paid a visit to a local refugee football club in the city of Leipzig. It was a special day for the young footballers.
A day before Germany were to take on Georgia in their final European championhip qualifying match in Leipzig, two of the German players, Kevin Volland and Shkrodan Mustafi, visited local club SV Lindenau. The Leipzig club has built a reputation for its work with migrant youth and has players from over thirty different countries.
Mustafi, a member of last year's World Cup-winning squad and whose parents are Albanian, praised the work of the DFB (German FA).
“Nobody flees their home for fun," Mustafi said. "It's good that the DFB are doing something here to make so many people's arrival in Germany that little bit easier.”
The air was heavy with excitement and nervous giggles ahead of SV Lindenau's friendly against Leipzig United FC's team made up of migrants. But the real reason for the atmosphere was the arrival of German stars Volland and Mustafi. When their black van arrived, all eyes shifted to them. Both sides rushed to the players to take selfies and get autographs.
Gabriel, from Macedonia, was one of the lucky kids who had the chance to meet them.
“It was really cool. We took photos. We said hi and talked for a bit," Gabriel said.
But the adoration was mutual. Once inside the club's locker room, the national team players engaged with the kids. Listening to their conversations you almost forgot the differences between them. It slowly started to sound like any other football discussion between passionate fans. They discussed the club's top goal scorers, which players are two-footed, and the Valencia defender Mustafi was impressed with the football knowledge of one of the kids, who knew his position and the name of the Spanish club he plays for.
A special day out
Also in attendance at the match was the DFB's president Wolfgang Niersbach, who praised the work of SV Lindenau in helping integrate migrants into German society.
"These are beautiful experiences and confirm our approach heading forward," Niersbach said. "This club and many others across the country are proof that integration through football can function well."
No one knows that better than FC United coach Christian Liebing.
"The language is absolutely not a problem. Football is a global language that unites. What is challenging, however, is to make the different cultures understand each other. But at the end they become a team and forget about these differences," he said.
The encounter with the German stars certainly left the migrant children inspired, but what they really benefit from is the club's day-to-day work - with no media present.
For Gabriel it has helped him to bond and meet other kids.
"I've found many friends here," he said.