A pair of Wigan Athletic supporters travelled to Russia to cheer on England’s World Cup campaign.
Liam O’Connor and fellow Latics fan Mike Ashton flew in to watch the national team in action against Tunisia, and have been taking in other matches like Denmark vs Australia, ahead of England’s penultimate group game against Panama.
And while there may not be any Wigan Athletic players in an England shirt this summer, that hasn’t stopped the friends from fully getting behind the team. Liam said: “We’ve both been
Latics fans our whole lives. I love both teams and get to as many games of both as I can, I couldn’t pick between the two.
“Mike is the same. We both get to as many games as we can and feel the same passion for club and country. Up the Tics and come on England.”
While Mike has previously been to Euro 2016 in France, this is the first time Liam has travelled for a major international tournament. He did, however, fly to Russia in 2013 to watch Wigan play Rubin Kazan in the Europa League.
And, of course, Liam took a little piece of Wigan with him again this time, unfurling a Latics banner in front of The Motherland Calls statue in
It seems they’ve been enjoying their time in Russia. Liam said: “Everyone has been fantastic and I’d urge everyone to travel here, given the chance, it’s genuinely one of the best places I’ve ever been.”
He added: “We have been welcomed with open arms.”
Liam and Mike were in Volgograd for England’s opening game against Tunisia, and described the rapturous atmosphere in the stadium when captain Harry Kane scored a stoppage time winner.
“It was absolutely incredible. Travelling so far and amongst a real hardcore of England fans, emotions were released and it went mad.
“All the players and management came over at the end, and the pictures sent back home from Volgograd speak for themselves.”
The win has lifted spirits high among the travelling supporters, who feel the Three Lions stand a good chance of going far in the World Cup.
Liam said: “We’ve got a real chance, it’s a 32-team tournament and you can never say it’s going to be easy but other teams have struggled and we’ve got a young, vibrant team with a manager who gets us. I’m not saying we’re going to win it but we’ve as much chance as anyone else. No pressure on us, let’s play football and see how far we can go.”
Liam and Mike will also be in Novgorod to see England play Panama tomorrow. They were unable to secure tickets for the Belgium game, but they have every intention of returning to Russia should England progress through the knock-out phases.