|Central Berlin football feature at the Brandenburg Gate|
Back in 2005 I was a committed football fan. Knowing the World Cup was coming closer to the UK than since 1990 and wouldn’t be back in Europe any time soon, I joined the official England supporters’ club. The dream was to get tickets for the 2006 finals in Germany.
Football is a big deal in England, a bigger deal than in most other countries. This makes the ballots for World Cup Finals tickets intensely competitive. I had friends who attended more qualifying matches than me and weren’t allocated any tickets.
But I got lucky, or so I thought at the time. An online ballot result revealed that I had in fact, yes, been allocated a voucher for the World Cup semi final, if England made it that far. Could England get there? Naturally I gambled, went to Germany, and England lost on penalties to Portugal in the quarter final, leaving me a heavily grieving mess.
Over the course of my visit I travelled from Berlin to Bochum, to near neighbour Gelsenkirchen, then on to Nuremberg and Munich. It was a pleasant, educational and enriching travel experience. I don’t regret the trip at all, although I will forever bear the emotional and psychological scars.
Standing in the pounding German heat of the Gelsenkirchen Fan Fest, I watched with thousands of others, fixated by the big screen as my dream evaporated. Attending a World Cup semi final, one featuring England: too good to be true. We didn’t really deserve it of course, but neither did Portugal. Denied by the winking Cristiano Ronaldo after Wayne Rooney’s kick at Ricardo Carvalho had reduced England to 10 men.
|Gelsenkirchen Fan Fest for England-Portugal|
Heartbroken is an understatement. I would not make this mistake again, invest that much, in emotion or cash. It wasn’t worth it. There was more to life than football. So much more. I was 25 at the time and not quite sure what that might be, but certain there must be something.
|Berlin Fan Fest after Germany’s penalty shootout win over Argentina|
|Berlin Potzdamer Platz|
|Munich beer garden|
|Munich Fan Fest for Portugal-France.|
|Munich Fan Fest|
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