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From the ‘Hand of God’ to Qatar: Superfan joins the action at ninth World Cup

Terry Matson and friends soak up the atmosphere at the 1982 World Cup in Spain (Picture: Terry Matson)

Superfan Terry Matson is at his ninth World Cup – and after seeing Maradona’s Hand of God goal and two semi-final defeats he is ready for anything that happens to ‘unpredictable’ England.

The 61-year-old bricklayer was given a ticket to the 1982 tournament in Spain as a 21st birthday gift from his parents.

He has since missed only two – when England failed to reach the USA in 1994, and through injury before France 1998.

‘How ironic,’ he said. ‘The closest World Cup to home and I miss it. It was the sciatic nerve. The pain was excruciating.’

At his first, England were booted out in the second group stage despite not losing.

Four years later he was in Mexico as Diego Maradona’s handball – and a genius solo goal – put Argentina in the semis.

With some of his World Cup tickets over the years (Picture: Terry Matson)

At Italia 90, Terry endured the penalty shoot-out defeat to eventual winners Germany.

In 2002 he visited the Far East for the first time, seeing David Beckham’s penalty avenge the Argentina defeat, before Brazil beat England 2-1 in the quarter finals.

Of Germany four years later, he said: ‘I thought we had 
a good chance of winning that one…’ but Wayne Rooney’s red card played a part in the golden generation’s defeat to Portugal.

Terry meeting other football fans at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (Picture: Terry Matson)

There was more pain in South Africa in 2010 when England went out in the second round, but Terry said: ‘I like my military history and there’s a lot in South Africa.

‘I’d been with my late father to visit the battlefields so to be able to go there with friends just tips it as my favourite.’ In Brazil in 2014, England were out after just two games.

He said: ‘All the World Cup trips have been good in different ways – Spain as the first; Mexico for the sun, sea and heat; Germany for the drinking and friends we made.

Terry Matson enjoys a pint at Mexico ’86 (Picture: Terry Matson)

‘I’ve certainly seen some places. Going into deepest Russia to Volgograd in 2018 I saw trams that probably survived World War II still going.’

Terry, from Kent, saves £25 a week for his World Cup fund. He says of our chances in Qatar: ‘I never make predictions because, having seen it all, England are so unpredictable at every tournament.

It’s in the hands of the manager and the players, it’s not down to me.’

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