The sun has set on my time in Brazil, but these memories are undoubtedly going to last a lifetime.
Though the final whistle blew almost six hours ago, Rio is still in party atmosphere. The streets are buzzing, the bars are overflowing, and the traffic is at a standstill. The entire world has watched the action over the last month, and now it seems like the entire population of Brazil is out on the streets celebrating.
I would still be out there with them all were it not for a flight back to the UK in a few hours time- that’s if I can make it to the airport through the carnival outside.
Some truly spectacular scenes here, ever since the last ball was kicked, indeed ever since the first ball was kicked. From start to finish this tournament has been one to remember and nobody would begrudge the hosts ending the tournament as champions.
Brazil have played some scintillating football, over-flowing with creativity and passion. The tears on the face of Neymar as he celebrated his second, and Brazil’s third, in the final, seemed to represent the emotions of an entire nation.
I came here with the intention of remaining as objective and unbiased as possible, but ever since my feet hit the tarmac I have been swept up in the atmosphere and the passion of the Brazilian population. Though Baddiel and Skinner may have claimed it in 1996, tonight it truly feels like football has come home.
From my very first day in Brazil I have lived and breathed this World Cup, and I feel incredibly honoured to have been present when the Estadio de Maracana erupted in celebration, rejoicing at the sight of Thiago Silva lifting the trophy.
It hasn’t all been celebrating and partying though. England’s World Cup ended sooner than many expected, and that is despite some of the best football I have seen them play in a long time. Going home before reaching the knock out stages may be inexcusable to some, but Hodgson was brave picking a very young squad, and this experience will benefit them in the long term.
England can not be accused of being negative either, the football was creative and exciting to watch. Lallana, Gerrard and Sturridge combined well on a number of occasions, giving Liverpool fans a taste of what they may see at Anfield next season. The desire was there for all to see, but as is so often the case in football, desire is often not enough.
As many had predicted, England versus Uruguay proved to be the pivotal game, and to borrow a footballing cliche, you could not have written it any better. Suarez, of all people, scoring the goal to send his country through, and England out. His popularity amongst non-Liverpool fans probably hitting an all-time low in the process.
The dark horses, the underdogs, the European-Brazil, whatever you wish to call them, Belgium captured the hearts of many. Participating in their first World Cup since 2002, they re-announced themselves on the big stage in some style. The 3-1 defeat of Portugal stood out for me as both one of the shocks of the tournament, and one of the best team performances. Though Argentina proved too strong for them in the Quarter Finals, Belgium should be immensely proud.
A World Cup is never complete without a drama in the French camp, and despite leaving Clichy and Nasri out of the squad, it occurred nonetheless. Their penalty loss to Nigeria provided one of the images of the tournament. The broad smile of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama as he throws his jersey to the fans in the crowd graced the covers of many of the Brazilian papers the next morning. Obviously some people in the Brazilian media had still not forgiven France for the defeat in the final in 1998.
Germany were typically German, reaching another semi final at an international tournament, only to be beaten to third place by a free scoring Argentina. Italy fell at the hands of beaten finalists Spain, and the rest as they say, is history.
An incredible month. An incredible journey. And an incredible adventure. I have to thank Titan Bet for making this possible, and to all those back in the UK for keeping up with my football ramblings. If you enjoyed reading even a quarter as much as I enjoyed experiencing, I am sure you have had the time of your life.
For the final time, from the World Cup in Brazil, I am signing off. This has truly been the best job in the world.
This is a hypothetical post, and is entirely fictional. I do not have mystic powers whereby I can predict and write the future correctly. Though if what I have written does come true, I shall immediately write a novel proclaiming the eradication of poverty, war and snoring.
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