World Cup 2014: England’s travelling fans face language trouble in Sao Paulo, but spirits are high
If England should die, remember this. That there’s some corner of Sao Paulo that will be forever Grimsby, Ipswich, Doncaster, Wolverhampton, Havant and Waterlooville, and the list goes on.
LIVE: Follow the latest news as England play Uruguay, plus Colombia v Ivory Coast and Japan v Greece
Brazil’s beating cultural and economic heart is not like London, or Rio de Janeiro. There is no Copacabana or Trafalgar Square to speak of.
Rather the Three Lions are moving like ants around a complicated concrete formicary, but even in one of the world’s largest urban metropolises, they are a near-ubiquitous presence.
Along the grand Avenida Paulista they are turning their tourist maps in confused circles before giving up and heading to the nearest bar. In the winding streets of Jardim Paulista, Rua Inglaterra runs parallel to Rua Polonia, and leads on to Rua Italia, Rua Franca and Rua Belgica (all turnings off the Avenida Europa), To the west, via Ruas Venezuela and Nicaragua is Rua Urugai. Compared to Inglaterra, it’s a narrow and rather parochial little alleyway.
At the official England fan hub yesterday they queued from 10am, despite it not opening until two. “We’re just here to get our tickets,” said Dave Webb, whose vital statistics are 40, Wolves, fifth major tournament. “But the bar’d better be open.”
The 64-year-old Steve Haslam, who is well into his fourth decade of following England around the world, has come straight from the heat of Manaus. “It’s fine, I’m sure it’ll all be fine, but nobody speaks English do they?”
He is right that life in Brazil is not straightforward for England’s non-Portuguese travelling army, and all other non-Portuguese speaking travelling armies, too.
“You come out at the station, or the airport, and they’re all there,” said Ian Holme (28, Leeds, only Ukraine/Poland so far). “They’ve got ‘Volunteer’ on their back in English. I don’t think they even know what that means.”
But the main word on everyone’s lips is a Spanish one – “Suarez” – and whether or not arguably the Premiership’s finest player is fit, unfit, half-fit, or somewhere in between.
“I don’t think he’s fit, he can’t be,” said John Elliott, (54, Charlton Athletic, every one since Portugal 2004, except South Africa).
“The jury’s out. But even if he is, you know in the Costa Rica game [who beat Urugay 3 -1], the Uruguay defence couldn’t handle the pace could they. Look at our players, Sturridge, Sterling, Welbeck, they’ve all got pace. They’ll find it difficult.”
“I hope we win, I really do, but I think maybe a draw.” said his friend Trevor Bradford (also Charlton Athletic, every one since Portugal 2004, except South Africa).
They landed at Sao Paulo International and in collecting their tickets and getting directions in to town, they recruited the services of lanyard wearing Fifa delegate.
“I’m sure he was very busy but he was very helpful. Telling us where to go, giving us the information and all that.”
“There are edgy times,” said Rachel Sutton, (44, Oldham, England football virgin). “I’m sure it’ll be a great tournament, but it’s the second game and it’s already ‘must win’. And it’s not going to be easy.”
Mark Ridley of Newark, 51, deep into a large bottle of the local lager with his shirt off in the just-before-midday sun, said “England will do it. Three nil.”
For his friend, Andy Stonebridge: “Last time, England played well. Roy picked the team we wanted. We backed off for their goals but we were very confident. England, two-nil. And Rooney will score.”
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27