SKY Blues super fan Brian Wright has gone to Brazil for what will be his sixth World Cup – but has hinted it could be his last.
Brian, from Holbrooks, has witnessed the highs and many more lows of following the Three Lions at every World Cup and European Championship since 1988.
He witnessed the penalty shoot-out heartache in the semi-final against West Germany in 1990, Michael Owen’s wonder goal against Argentina in 1998 and David Beckham’s redemption four years later in Japan.
But the 44-year-old father of two has revealed to the Observer if England were to win this year’s World Cup his long journey may come to an end.
“It would be my 300th game watching England and I couldn’t think of a better place to hang up my boots so to speak.
“I know it’s a long shot but if we get to the final and win I don’t think it could ever get better than that.
“I love going to watch my country but there are plenty of other fans that have been doing it for much longer. I put in the time and effort along with thousands of others.”
Many England fans could be forgiven for being put off making the trip to Brazil because of civil unrest that has led to anti-World Cup protests.
But Brian said they never considered putting off travelling and said he was looking forward to what he said could be one of the greatest World Cups in the history of the competition.
“I remember Sol Campbell saying England fans travelling to the Euros in Ukraine two years ago would come back in coffins but there was no trouble there.
“And South Africa apparently had one of the highest murder rates in the world. A year before the Olympics we had the riots and look how good those Games turned out to be.
“I think this going to be the last great World Cup in a footballing country.
“Future World Cups in Russia and Qatar are not very appealing. If you want to see your county in a World Cup I can’t think of a better place than Brazil.”
Brian will once again have his now famous Rooneyshrek with him at all the games, but his fiancé Lisa has not made the trip.
The Observer reported back in 2012 how he proposed at the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield.
“She came out to Miami for the two warm-up games and really enjoyed the trip but I’ll be heading to the World Cup without her and my family.
“I will miss her terribly because this will be the longest amount of time I’ll be spending without her. But if we get to the final I’m sure we’ll sort something out but that will be a ‘money can’t buy’ experience.”
As for England’s chances in the competition, Brian told us: “I actually think we’re going to do really well!
“I quite like how we’re being talked down with no real expectations now that the golden generation has ended.
“I like the young lads being given a chance and Ross Barkley really reminds me of a young Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) when he came through back in 1990.
“I’m quietly confident but the first match is very important. If we can beat Italy it will bring a confidence into the side for the rest of the tournament.”
THE talking must stop when England begin their World Cup campaign in Manaus on Saturday (11pm) against an Italian side who dumped them out of the European Championships, albeit on penalties, two years ago in Kiev, writes Charlie McCann, football tipster at BetVictor.
The goalless draw masked a gulf in class between the nations with the Azzurri totally dominant and it is perhaps significant that John Terry, so outstanding in the Ukrainian capital, will be missing from the heart of the defence for Roy Hodgson’s side this weekend.
Italy’s coach Cesare Prandelli started with the former Pescara team-mates Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne up front in their 5-3 win against Fluminense on Sunday and, having scored all five goals between them, there is every chance they will start against the Three Lions with former Manchester City star Mario Balotelli left on the bench.
In the run up to the World Cup Prandelli did compare Immobile, who has just been signed by Borussia Dortmund to replace Bayern bound Robert Lewandowski, to Toto Schillaci who began the 1990 World Cup as fifth choice for the Azzurri and ended up a World Cup winner and the Tournament’s leading goalscorer.
Immobile is 15/2 to score first and that makes more appeal as does the 6/1 for Daniel Sturridge to open the scoring and the 13/5 for him to find the back of the net at any time in Manaus.
Italy are 7/4 favourites but this is the squad, if not the team, held 1-1 by Luxembourg ten days ago and if England play with no fear they can get off to a winning start.
Hodgson’s side are 2/1 at BetVictor with the same price for the draw and, with Uruguay waiting in the wings, it will be difficult for the losing side to qualify for the knockout stages although Spain did lose their opening game to Switzerland four years ago before going on to lift the Trophy in South Africa.
England remain 28/1 at BetVictor to lift the trophy with Italy 25s behind favourites and hosts Brazil at 3s, Argentina 7/2, Spain 13/2 and Germany 7s.
Those odds are an honest assessment of the chances of Hodgson’s side but heroes are made at World Cups. It promises to be something quite special.