BARRY Barton didn’t know much about soccer before he went to the World Cup in Brazil.
Now he’s hoping to attend the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
After seeing all three of Australia’s games last month, Mr Barton caught the fever.
Mr Barton returned to Australia last week after the Socceroos were unsuccessful in progressing beyond their group round, but he has since been getting up in the early mornings to watch successive cup rounds on television.
He is confident his new-found interest in the game will carry him through more early starts this week to watch the semi-finals, before rising again with other enthusiasts for the World Cup grand final in the early hours of next Monday.
He said he was fortunate to have the game explained to him in Brazil, which made it much more interesting.
“It is a game of strategy,” he said.
Mr Barton, whose sporting interest is mainly in showjumping, said he got interested in attending the World Cup through friend Lev Osman, who at one time played for Australia’s Olympic soccer team, the Ollyroos. They joined a 1500-strong contingent of Fanatics tour members from Australia but Mr Barton said the Fanatics had nothing on the fanaticism of fans from some of the other nations.
“After Australia’s three matches, we had fans from the other sides say they were amazed at how sportsmanlike our players were and how happy we were to be there,” Mr Barton said.
“The other sides were more fanatical about it.”
When Brazil got a goal in its games, nearly every car horn in the city was tooting, he said.
The electric atmosphere at games was thrilling and the soccer stadiums vibrantly presented, though the stadiums’ surrounds were sometimes less than desired.
Mr Barton said other great memories were the warm welcome from the Brazilian people and the beauty of the countryside.
“No one spoke English but they made a real effort to make us feel welcome,” he said.
The size of Brazil had been an eye-opener, with the long distances sometimes involving a domestic plane flight, between the Socceroos’ games at venues in Cuiaba, Porto Alegre and Curitiba.
Mr Barton said he never felt unsafe during his three-week stay in Brazil, even at night.
“It was well-controlled,” he said of the World Cup organisation.