Six SuperFans in Japan
They flew in from the four corners of the globe: Robert Patane from Sydney, Jose Carlos Ferreira and his son from Sao Paulo, Samy Mokhtar Boshar from Egypt, Abdulrahman Ahmed Abdulrahman Bukhari from Saudi Arabia, Miguel Varela and his sons from Costa Rica and Omid Shah Malek from England; all of them united by one burning passion - football.
The magnificent six are none other than the winners of the FIFA SuperFans competition open to supporters of the six qualifiers for the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005. Through their words, drawings and photos they showed just why they are their clubs' staunchest supporters. With club football entering a brave new era, the prize awaiting them was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for two to Japan to cheer their heroes on.
Click here to see the winning entries:
"They said they wanted creativity and that you could write or draw, so I did both," explains Al Ittihad superfan Abdulrahman Ahmed Abdulrahman Bukhari, while telling us how much he suffered during his side's semi-final against Sao Paulo.
"We're having a great time. We've seen quite a bit of Tokyo and we've also been to Nagoya Castle. We're making the most of our free time by seeing the sights," Samy Mokhtar tells us while still lamenting Aboutrika's close-range miss in the game against Sydney FC.
Manuel Varela, Deportivo Saprissa's superfan, says the inspiration for his entry came from his seven brothers and sisters with his daughter providing the artwork. "I came up with the idea and she put it all down on paper," he says smiling. Unable to decide which member of his family should join him, Manuel felt the opportunity to travel to Japan and cheer on the Purple Monster was simply too good to miss. So, unwilling to leave anyone behind in Costa Rica, he bought two more tickets so the Varela family could all fly together to the Land of the Rising Sun.
"It's just amazing to be here. I was out shopping with my wife when they told me the news and I just burst into tears. When I told my son he started crying too," says Sao Paulo superfan, Jose Carlos Ferreira, struggling to contain his emotions. He secured his ticket to Tokyo with a letter to Santa Claus and a photo of his family in Paulista colours.
"We might come from different parts of the world, but our love for football has brought us all together," he says before adding, "After the birth of my two children this is the best thing that's ever happened to me."
The super six have seen all the games at the FIFA Club World Championship and have forged some close bonds. Although they may have struggled to put on a brave face after a defeat, there is always the consolation of having made five new friends in the furthest flung corners of the globe.
Tomorrow will see them all meet up again at Yokohama's international Stadium for the grand final between Liverpool and Sao Paulo. Hopefully the other superfans will help Omid and Jose Carlos keep their nerves under control.