With the 2022 FIFA World Cup having finished just over a week ago, Anthony Dodds relives a moment from the tournament he will never forget.
In Brazil like parts of this country, football is more than just a sport, it’s life – it’s more than life. It is the beginning and end of the universe, cosmic superstars etching their blazing path across the lives of a nation. One of the world’s most footballing-mad nations takes it up a notch once every four years, when the World Cup comes around Brazil reaches the footballing fever pitch. Brazil, as we all know, are masters of the tournament, five-time winners, team after team stacked with legends and icons of the game Brazil knows how to do football and their fans know how to celebrate it.
I was invited to the Kings’ Brazilian society’s watch party for their final two group games Vs Switzerland and Vs Cameroon. Now unfortunately I picked up a bit of flu prior to the second game and couldn’t attend but watching the game Vs Switzerland was easily one of if not the best experiences of football live not in a stadium I’ve ever had.
Upon arriving in the basement of the salsa bar in Soho I find myself in a sea of gleaming yellow. The drums and trumpets are already out and ready to blare. A little bit of Rio on a dreary old English morning. The excitement was palpable even for an expected-to-win second-group game with little meaning to the fortunes of the Seleção Canarinho. The game dragged and plodded with Brazil squandering what glimpses of chances they scrapped against a stubborn and persistent Swiss side.
As food and drink flowed, I sat conversing with those around me about football, what it means to them and how we’re all certain they’re going to win the tournament… most conversations inevitably ended up with me being bombarded with questions about why I – unlike everyone else in the room – was not wearing a Brazil shirt. Instead for this outing I had donned by Newcastle United shirt of the late nineties. My club, not their nation. Though we Geordies share much in common with the football wild Brazilians, the one commonality this day was their 17, our magic 37. Bruno Guimares.
Disappointingly for all of us Bruno had to settle for a start in the dugout for the Swiss game as he did for all games this tournament. Tite’s persistence on sticking with his man over the massively inform Newcastle central midfielder would come to haunt him but that’s a story for a different time. Then in the 58th minute the man I had came to see strolled onto the pitch, making the sign of the cross and kissing the sky. Bruno entered the field for the much maligned Fred. A ripple of cheer and excitement thundered through the crowd the tempo of the drummer picked up just as that of the game seemed to rumble into life, within 10 minutes of his arrival he’d played a crucial role in a (frustratingly disallowed but well worked) goal. Brazil were beginning to purr and slowly adding pressure until…
Elation, dancing and singing, drumming. Casemiro lashes a lovely volley into the far corner of the Swiss net and all is well in the world once more. This time, it counts. Ten minutes later it’s all over, and I have to rush off to catch my bus.
I say my thanks and share my gratitude to what had been a tremendous two hours of noise, happiness and football. Welcomed in as if I’d grown up on the streets of Rio or Sao Paulo waving the Bandeira do Brasil. Even when their team isn’t, the Brazilian fans are the epitome of Jogo Bonito.