ENGLAND superfan Jim Larvan has followed the national team for 20 years — and is now dreaming of seeing them in a World Cup final.
The 48-year-old from Treeton has travelled to five previous World Cups and countless qualifiers and made two previous trips to Russia.
He and fellow fan Mark Chappell (32), from Swinton, have been among the massed ranks of red-and-white-decked supporters for every game, and are now beginning to believe glory is in sight.
“We’ve talked as fans over the years about whether we would get to see England win a World Cup in our lifetime and it does feel different this time — maybe it really is coming home,” said Jim, quoting the refrain from Three Lions which has swept the nation.
“I think I would have preferred to play Belgium but it would be great to beat France in the final — actually, it would be great to beat anyone in the final!
“I am quietly optimistic and dreaming the dream.
“I thought we might make it to the quarter-final but I can hardly believe we’re on the verge of the final.”
Jim, who has seen a series of England sides go to tournaments and come up short since his first World Cup experience in 1998, said he was impressed with the team spirit Gareth Southgate has built with his squad.
“You can see there is a real camaraderie there which is different from previous times,” he said.
As for his own emotions, Jim said he was excited about tonight’s game but nervous about the outcome.
He has been to every game with with fellow Millers supporter Mark, while their friend Ian Deakin (52), from Thurcroft, joined them for the Belgium group game and again for the quarter-final onwards.
Jim said all of them had been charmed by Russian hospitality.
“The response from the Russians has been fantastic,” he said. “They can’t do enough for us, they’ve been buying us drinks and everything.
“The organisation around the tournament has been good, too.”
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