On board the International Space Station the Expedition 13 crew were delighted to receive a phone call from some of the world's most famous football stars earlier this week. ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, an avid football fan, took the chance to demonstrate his own football skills, aided of course by weightlessness.
The footballers and coaching staff from Spanish team FC Barcelona took time out from a pre-season training tour in the United States to visit NASA's Johnson Space Center, in Houston. Coach Frank Rijkaard and three players, Xavi, Puyol and Ronaldinho, made the call to the Expedition 13 crew from inside the Station Flight Control Room in Mission Control.
Rijkaard said that it was a great honour to speak with the astronauts in space, "I have some players over here who are heroes on Earth at the moment, but I think that you are the true heroes in space and you are doing a great job."
The coach, who works with some of the world's most skilful football players, asked the crew to show them some of the tricks that can be done in space. In response Reiter eagerly performed a perfect overhead bicycle kick, spinning a full 360 degrees.
In an exchange of gifts the Expedition crew were presented with personalised FC Barcelona shirts, each bearing the number 13. On behalf of the crew, the footballers were presented with a photograph of the city of Barcelona taken from on board ISS, framed together with a Spanish flag flown in space on the recent STS-121 Space Shuttle mission.