Former Bury Town and Needham Market midfielder Michael Steward experienced England’s misery of crashing out of the World Cup first hand last week.
He was at the 2-1 defeat to Uruguay, which ultimately eliminated England from the competition, and wrote the following after the match...
Due to the sheer vastness of São Paulo, it proves quite difficult to find places in the city that are truly gripped with World Cup fever.
In complete contrast to Manaus, the city seems in many ways to have engulfed the tournament and spat it out in less intense form — all except when Brazil are playing, which sees tube trains packed, bars overflowing and a sea of yellow shirts lining the streets.
It feels quite odd to be in a country whose people actually believe they can win a major tournament and I don’t meet anyone who, despite their team’s deficiencies, aren’t convinced they can go all the way.
Such confidence is infectious and I find myself believing in Brazil’s chances too — it’s much easier than believing in England’s anyway.
That said, my thoughts on the day of the game following the performance against Italy are completely positive.
The cool and windy weather is more akin to the British springtime and I hear the phrase ‘this will suit us’ a number of different times, which adds to my confidence.
The fact that I, like nearly every England fan, am shivering due to being dressed inappropriately in T-shirt and shorts does nothing to dampen my spirits.
Arriving at Arena Corinthians, I can’t help but feel a touch disappointed.
The stadium looks and feels all a bit makeshift.
The four large temporary stands that crudely create an upper tier in order to turn a 48,000 ground into a 70,000 one do absolutely nothing for the aesthetics of the place and concerned-looking men in hard hats with walkie talkies do not give off a particularly safe vibe either — especially given the crane accident and subsequent deaths that occurred in the stadium in the lead up to the tournament.
However, I still remain in a positive frame of mind, telling myself how lucky I am to be at a World Cup game in Brazil.
My optimism regarding the game isn’t shared by most as the carefree first game attitude of Manaus is replaced by a more expectant, edgier atmosphere among both sets of supporters.
Described by Brazilian TV as ‘the game of the desperate’ the knowledge that defeat would almost certainly send them on the first plane back to either London or Montevideo seems to be playing heavily on their minds.
Locating my seat high in one of the new stands to find the temperature a few degrees colder and crawling with Uruguayans does finally start to get my goat.
As does Luis Suarez’s first goal, which leads the Uruguayan fan in front of me to gyrate in ecstatic celebration.
Not wishing to see either situation again, at half-time I head across the ground in an attempt to find a seat in the England section.
I settle for standing behind them, which provides an excellent view of the end England are attacking and I am delighted to be able to clearly see Wayne Rooney arrive at the back post and finally renew my optimism.
‘This is ours to win’ I say to the bloke next to me, who nods his approval.
Unfortunately, it proves to be ours to lose and, bitterly disappointed, I slink off at the final whistle not wanting to see anymore of Luis Suarez or anymore Uruguayan celebrations.
Choosing not to go to the Costa Rica game, my World Cup ends here, but it has been an incredible experience.
Like the players, however, I can only be left wondering what might have been.