World Cup frenzy is certainly evident at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport just days from kickoff, with hordes of travelling fans, football stars, international media and Grammy Award winning musician R Kelly arriving in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Former World Cup stars, Holland’s Ruud Gullit and England’s Steve McManaman arrived on Saturday, shortly before England international Michael Dawson, who was mobbed by a media contingent outside international arrivals as he flew in to replace injured England captain Rio Ferdinand.
And to top this off, over the last few days many of the teams who will be competing in the tournament have started to arrive, with stars such as Kaka, Messi and Rooney already having passed through the airport terminal.
But it is the rush of international fans that is really bringing the World Cup spirit to South Africa, as the country’s main airport begins to welcome the expected influx of World Cup travelers.
Mexican brothers Juan and Junior Medrano and Juan’s wife Michelle, were among those who excitedly arrived in the country, sporting huge sombreros of course.
“It’s been a dream of ours to attend the FIFA World Cup and we’re so happy to be in South Africa and can’t wait for the tournament to start. I’m so excited to be here – celebrating with the world. In this time we all need things to bring people together. I am happy South Africa was chosen to host the FIFA World Cup. Over the next few weeks Africa’s first FIFA World Cup will be the catalyst to unite the world. It’s a symbol of hope and new beginnings for all of us,” said Junior Medrano, a newly-qualified occupational therapist.
Argentina’s Vera brothers, Emilio and Jose, from Resis Dencia near the Paraguayan border, also arrived on Saturday with plane tickets, but no clue as to where they would be staying, assisted by airport staff with a list of B&B and hotel establishments as they arrived.
“It’s amazing to be here. I was at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and I wanted to repeat the experience. It’s my favourite holiday and I am sure Africa will be a great host and showcase all its best attributes to the world. Every World Cup is better than the last and I am sure this World Cup will be the best ever,” said Jose.