Ever since I saw a picture of the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, I was seven years old, it was 1970, it has been a magical place to me. So when in Rio, I had to visit.
Two strange outcomes resulted from the visit to see home-team, the stadium-sharing Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, playing Figueirense FC in an exciting game that they lost 1-2 in the last minute of extra time.
Firstly, my non-football loving wife decided that she loved Flamengo even after they lost, so stupidly, having been a goal up.
Secondly, despite the stadium having changed radically from that photo of it in its pomp that sparked the imagination of seven-year-old me to realise that football and therefore the world existed outside of England, seven-year-old me burst through with clean, clear excitement and joy.
Sure, the stadium was half full – the away fans travelled on a Sunday night 1,130km from Florianópolis south of Rio. Sure, the football was in parts agricultural but in other parts (like the free kick from Figueirense). Sure, it was raining. But it was also beautifully evocative of my pre-teen hope.
So, enjoy the pix and videos below – but only with a very young mind though.