Published on June 11th, 2018 | by Sarah Jubb
The 12th Man – Football’s Superfans
Football is a sport that inspires people across the globe and there have been many stories over the years of footballers who have reached the heights of glory after rough beginnings. But while most people may focus on the super clubs such as Manchester United or the players who will go down in history like Lionel Messi, there is an often forgotten about aspect that makes football so great – the fans.
While a team of football players consists of 11 men on the pitch, football fans can arguably become the 12th man. Their roaring support, which often includes singing songs to their own team to inspire their footballing heroes to chants that aim to disturb the opposing side, makes a football game exciting and exhilarating.
When it comes to the World Cup, fans of all team’s band together to support their national team in the hopes of achieving the glory of taking home the trophy. Only eight teams have done this; Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, England, France and Spain but the hopes of footballing fans still stay strong.
But there are some fans who take their support to a whole new level, investing vast amounts of time and money into following their team. In this article, we look at some of the footballing superfans who have become famous for their passion, whether it’s for attending big games or their passion for collecting football memorabilia.
Brazil’s 12th Man
The 7-1 defeat of Brazil to Germany in 2014 is renowned for being a crushing defeat, and one of the lasting images is of the Brazilian fans clutching his replica World Cup while in tears. This man was Clovis Acosta Fernandes, who was a huge fan of his national team.
He followed his team across 60 countries, in which he saw over 150 games and even attended seven World Cup finals to cheer on the Seleção. Unfortunately, Fernandes passed away in 2015 but there is every hope for Brazil in the 2018 World Cup.
The Man With A Guinness World Record
Attending a World Cup is likely to be on the bucket list of many football lovers across the world, but for one man it’s just a fact of life. Venezuelan Hely Garagozzo has made it a tradition to attend the world’s most popular sporting event, to the extent he has a Guinness World Record!
Since 1982, Garagozzo has attended every World Cup, making it nine consecutive events in a row. This has earned him the title of ‘Most FIFA World Cup tournaments attended by an individual (different editions)’. His travels are estimated to have taken him over 231,000 kilometres and that’s soon to extend as he is set to travel to Russia!
The Largest Panini Collection In The World
It’s not just the fans who attend games religiously who can take the title of being superfans, but also those who invest their time and money into collecting football related items. For many young children, the Panini football sticker albums are a cherished and time-honoured tradition.
But for 54-year-old Gianni Bellini of Italy, it has become a passion that has extended years. He estimates that he spends around £3,500 a year on stickers to fill up his albums and collects stickers that cover leagues from all over, from Serie A to even the obscure. Perhaps amusingly, he has admitted that he would save his sticker collection before saving his family in the case of an emergency!