Soccer is a national passion that everyone knows about. And that (almost) everyone also loves to travel. Born in Miguelópolis, in the interior of São Paulo, Miguel Freitas decided to combine these two passions. Miguel, who grew up in São José do Rio Preto since he was four, is a fan of Mirasol from the neighboring city and has always followed sports closely.
“El Mochilero de la Pelota” has visited more than thirty countries just to watch soccer games. On the road for five years, he tells how the idea came about: “My first European backpacking trip was in 2017, 19 countries and 70 camps. Lots of money, and in 2017 I decided to backpack all over Europe. Never stop.”
Although he has been touring stadiums around the world since 2017, his Instagram profile was only created in 2019, since Miguel does not consider himself a social media enthusiast. His Instagram name is simple and totally believable: @omochileirodabola.
The idea came from friends who encouraged me and insisted that I post more content and create a YouTube channel.
Since March 2020, Miguel lives in Liverpool, England, where he works on delivery apps. The paulista says that he always plans everything before visiting a new stadium: a spreadsheet with costs, matches and alternative routes.
As she is free to choose her hours, she sometimes combines work with leisure: “I just turn on the app and wait for deliveries, when I’m traveling within England I drive, and if I’m early for a game I call the app at town and end up making a few deliveries before leaving.
The App Helps in Finding Matches
Miguel’s itinerary and logistics are carried out with the help of the “Futbology” application, where, depending on his location, the user can watch matches within a radius of up to 300 kilometers. “I choose the city or region to which I am going to travel, I see the games that are going to be held and from there I start to put together the trips. In addition to looking at the websites of the federations and competitions with backgammon”. With his flexibility of days and times, Miguel always plans his trips based on the excursions that take place in the places he visits.
However, if there is no game on the date you intend to go to a particular city, you change your schedule just to see the home team.
A week after arriving on the European continent, the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit the world. Miguel had already bought tickets for four games on English soil when the tournament was paralyzed. He returned all the money until, after almost half a year, the Brazilian was able to return to action.
It was a very difficult period, I spent five months without seeing a match, in a new country where I didn’t know anyone. Little by little, they started to launch outdoor activities and I started attending games from English Division VIII to English Division X.
Little Singing and Shy Crowd
Despite having lived in England for two years and visiting all the fields from one to four English divisions, Miguel was frustrated with the football atmosphere in the country where the sport was invented: “England in general was very disappointing, because of the reputation for hooligans that he was, I expected more singing in the stands,” he laments, referring to Britain’s more lively, sometimes violent and aggressive fans.
But it was also in Europe where he had his best experiences: “The Champions League is the best of all. I’ve played many games from the group stage to the semifinals, but my biggest dream is to see the final today.” a tie ”, he says about the most important tournament between the clubs of the old continent.
If England did not live up to expectations, then Germany was the country that Miguel loved the most. “As for the national championship, what stands out to me the most is Germany, the enthusiastic fans, you can drink in the stands, their traditional food. I’ve been to a few stadiums there and I plan to visit more.” One of the stadiums that Miguel has visited is Borussia Dortmund, “the main stadium that he wanted to visit.”
And it was precisely there that he despaired: “I bought the ticket online and they sent it to me by mail at my cousin’s house in Portugal, but I was already on my way and I didn’t receive it. So I had the great idea to send it to me by WhatsApp and I print it in a stationery store”.
However, Miguel did not expect that the tactic would not work: “When I went to enter the stadium it did not work, I began to despair. They sent me to the ticket office and the woman reprinted it for me. When I entered the stadium it was a feeling of relief and achievement “.
Riots in Poland and the Czech Republic
Although Miguel claimed to be a calm man who never felt overly restless or scared during his travels, there were frequent actions that made him “consider giving up and thinking about what he was doing with his life.” The fan of the interior of Sao Paulo says that he had to sleep on the floor of a carriage during a train trip from Poland to Germany.
“When I went to buy the ticket, the woman told me something and I just said ok. I didn’t understand well, I just wanted to get to my destination. When I got on the train, I understood what it was. As if trying to say, the train had seats, and I didn’t have room for 5 Almost hours of travel because it was full. The train was in the middle of the night, and I had to sleep on the floor in the aisle,” he recalled.
Two unusual cases occurred in the Czech Republic. In one, Miguel was traveling by bus from Salzburg, Austria, to Prague. Arriving in the Czech capital, he realized that he had lost his passport.
“After five minutes of panic, I kept calm and thought: it was a regular bus, from one city to another, I knew that the same bus I took to Prague would return to Salzburg, I just had to know the time and stay at the stop. The bus”.
However, Miguel had communication problems due to the language: “At that time I couldn’t communicate in English, I tried to speak in the office of the company where the buses went, without success.
At some point I gave up, I went for a walk around the city until I had time to go to the station and I found a garage full of buses, I searched for a few minutes and found the bus of the company I came to. I knocked on the door and the driver was cleaning the seats and he came to give me my passport.”
Another story marked in his memory is also that of Czech public transport, when he went to see a game in the interior of the country.
“I took a train from Prague to the field, but I got off at the station too far from the stadium, there was nothing nearby and the game was about to start. I ran trying to find someone and a taxi came out of nowhere. I just walked in and said I wanted to go to the game. The woman said that she would have to drive someone else, but then she would take me to the playground. When I got to the playground, she didn’t have the coin, she didn’t take euros, I had some coins, and I tossed them to her and she was like, “Come on, son. You’ll be glad you made it to five minutes into the game.
37 Countries and Counting
Miguel has already had the opportunity to visit 37 countries. In 32 of them he attended soccer matches. There have been three continents in five years: Africa, Europe and South America. In our continent, he witnessed one of the most memorable matches of his adventure around the world: the 2019 Copa América Final, in Asunción, Paraguay, between Colón from Argentina and Independiente del Valle from Ecuador.
“It was a unique match, Colón had never been in a final. They swept the field, only his fans were there, it was very nice ”. The Argentine team lost, but the fan party is one of the reasons why Miguel wanted to see matches in his sister lands.
“In the Argentine championship, all the fans were excited and I had never seen the games there. The other audience that I didn’t know was a fan and ended up surprising me with the Vitória de Guimarães in Portugal”, he says.
The nomad with the ball does not know how much he spent in all these five years of adventure, because he “works and supports himself during the trips”, but he calculated the value of his trip to Russia in 2018, in the last World Cup.
“Me and four other friends spent 20 days traveling, we visited Spain, Finland, Estonia, Russia and Malta, we went to six matches of the first stage, we spent around R$13,000 each, including tickets, accommodation, food and drinks. It was cheap compared to what everyone imagined.”
The Brazilian feels privileged to be able to make his dreams come true: “When I go to a new stadium, I like to look at the architecture and imagine how much history has really happened there. I always think that all I dreamed of was being there.” A friend jokes that I have no idea what I’m living through”. Because the dream of many of watching a Champions League or English Premier League match is every day for me, because every week I am in one of these matches. .
But he knows that his task will only be more complicated, and whenever he needs help, he seeks help to familiarize himself with the new stadiums: “There are some groups on Facebook where fans help, they are members and members of the club who cannot go and end up passing tickets at the original value, without resale and changes. Some parties have already asked the Brazilian players through Instagram, although it is difficult, some respond, especially the less expressive teams, “he concludes.
Miguel will also attend the next World Cup in Qatar, where he will stay for a week and watch the matches in the eight stadiums that will host the World Cup.
What’s next for Mirassol fans? Watch soccer matches in all 211 FIFA member countries. We are in the crowd.