In November, CNN covered the story of 22-year-old Jack Howes, a remarkable young man with Asperger’s whose affinity for soccer – or, to the rest of the world, football – helped him cope with anxiety and overcome social challenges.
Writer James Masters describes how Jack can list every single FA Cup winning Team since 1984 in chronological order – from memory alone. And this is just a small taste of his vast working memory of soccer history. He tells CNN: “Because of my autism, I knew all the statistics whether it be previous winners or former players. If anyone ever got lippy at school about knowing lots about football then I could crush them with my knowledge.”
He particularly loves his local club, English Premier League Tottenham [pictured above is their starting lineup before the match against Atlético Madrid in 1963], telling CNN how the “Spurs,” as they’re called, helped him get over a bout of severe anxiety last year: “The only exception to feeling like a zombie was when Spurs played, because they provided a release from everything else in my life and also because it would take my mind off things. I’d feel actual emotion and happiness when Spurs won. I’d forget my anxieties for an hour or two because of the emotion induced by the team’s results.”
Jack describes how hard it was as a child for him to make friends, until his peers started playing sports during recess. Then everything clicked into place. “Football helped me because it was one of the few ways I could happily communicate with kids,” he says.
Read the full story here.