With less than a day to go for the world’s most popular sporting event, football fever grips patrons across the globe, who will be pinning all their hopes and dreams on their favourite teams and players. A time that comes once every four years, this is when the heart pumps and millions of patriotic veins burst with emotions. Amidst all this sweet madness, let’s take some time to read up about the gorgeous destinations where some of your favourite football stars were born!
Football ace Ronaldo was born in the breath-taking city of Funchal, the capital of the Madeira archipelago. Opening out to the azure Atlantic, Funchal is ensconced amidst dramatic mountains, sunny coasts, stunning beaches, and verdant gardens (Funchal is famous for its gardens, scattered all over the city). Gastronomy and a throbbing nightlife are other delightful highlights of this swell city.
Ranked as one of the world’s fastest footballer’s, the versatile Portugal skipper sure has the hopes up of millions of Portuguese fans with his dizzying speed, aerial superiority, and electrifying dribbles. However, the 33-year-old striker’s club future is uncertain. Will it hamper his game in Russia? Or will the five-time Ballon d’Or winner put a rest on the GOAT debate, by lifting the World Cup?!
This notorious football legend hails from Seville. Located along the river Guadalquivir, this unique Spanish city wins over the hearts of its visitors with a dreamy mix of medieval alleys, baroque churches, stellar palaces, and resplendent UNESCO Sites like the Cathedral, the General Archive of the Indies, and the Alcazar Palace Complex. This fascinating Andalusian capital also has a lot culture and history to boast of, owing to its rich Moorish heritage.
Love him or hate him, you just can’t ignore Sergio Ramos, a prolific defender, and the master of dark arts! The mainstay of La Roja defence, Ramos’s sturdy defence will make all the difference for Spain this year!
The “Little Magician” of football, Argentina’s Lionel Messi, who has secured a permanent residence in the hearts of millions of fans around the world, is originally from the city of Rosario – a city that boasts of yet another famous ‘export’ – Che Guevara! Besides, its unmissable fútbol culture, Argentina seduces with its natural wonders, tango, the soaring Andes, and the fascinating Argentine culture.
Messi missed the chance to win the cup in Brazil 2014, however, the Argentinian talisman is all set to raise the temperatures in Russia with his incredible dribbles, goals, and leadership.
Kevin De Bryune
Described as a “complete” footballer by many, with media and the likes ranking him as one of Europe’s best players, the Manchester City midfielder is all set to prove his mettle for the Belgian national team, which boasts of other big names like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Thibaut Courtois. Can this be the historic year for the Belgians?
Got a sweet tooth? Chocolates, Waffles And Fries: Indulge In Belgium’s Food And Desserts!
A charming University town located in north-eastern Germany, Greifswald, the hometown of Toni Kroos is around 160 miles away from Berlin and Hamburg – two of Germany’s largest cities. Keeping up with the country’s fairytale vibes when it comes to landscapes and natural beauty, Greifswald is a lesser-known gem studded with colourful houses, quaint cobbled alleys, and an extremely pretty harbour.
A classic Number 8, Toni Kroos is a three-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid and a key member of the Die Mannschaft (the Germany national football team). His link-up play in midfield will be crucial for Germany to defend the title this year!
The captain of the Poland’s national football team, Robert Lewandowski hails from Warsaw – the intriguing capital city of Poland. Having suffered near annihilation after the WWII, the Warsaw that you see today bounces with life, radiating with hearty contrasts – medieval red-roofed neighbourhoods juxtaposing with soaring skyscrapers, historic squares harmonizing with modern cafes and bars, and a world-class entertainment and restaurant scene.
Coming back to the national football hero, the 29-year-old Bayern Munich striker is capable of destroying the defences of the very best teams single-handedly, in Russia 2018! Let’s see how well his team supports him.
Philippe Coutinho and Neymar,
As Brazil gear up to kickstart their World Cup campaign against Switzerland on Sunday, all eyes are set on the shining duo of the national team – Neymar Jr. and Philippe Coutinho. While Coutinho was born in Rid de Janeiro, Neymar comes from Sao Paulo. One of the most vivacious cities on earth, Rio shines with verdant mountains, golden beaches, fervorous football matches, and epic nightlife. Sao Paulo, on the other hand, is a foodie haven bursting with cultural centres, museums, cinema’s, and the finest of restaurants.
This exciting soccer duo will have to synchronize well to win the elusive sixth World Cup for Brazil! Can they really shrug-off memories of their 7-1 demolition to the Germans in the last World Cup semis? Let’s watch!
France are surely one of the favourites for this year’s Football World Cup, and if there’s one French star to watch out for, it is the skillful Paul Pogba! This young Manchester United ace was born in Lagny-sur-Marne, an eastern suburb of Paris – a city that needs no introduction. One of the most loved cities across the globe, Paris cajoles the inner wanderlust with its classic boulevards and bistros, architectural and artistic treasures, Parisian style, and of course – French food and the Eiffel!
As for Pogba, let’s see whether the Napoleon of the French football team can propel Les Bleus to the podium finish in Moscow!
David de Gea
Known for his impeccable reflexes, Spain’s David de Gea is set to appear in his first World Cup. This towering, agile keeper comes from Madrid – a dazzling city that swears by its music, food, culture, art, plaza’s, art, restaurants, it’s lovely people, and of course, football!
As Spain take on Portugal on Friday in Sochi, Russia, De Gea inches closer to the dream of World Cup glory for his country, while at the same time, looking forward to a face-off with his former Manchester United compatriot, Cristiano Ronaldo! By far the most prolific goalkeeper in the competition, David de Gea represents a glorious line of World Cup legendary goalies – Lev Yashin, Buffon, Casillas… Can he emulate his Man Utd form for Spain in Russia?
With the World Cup kickstarting tomorrow, England’s World Cup dreams rest on the shoulders of one man – Harry Kane. A quintessential, clean-cut Englishman, with no tattoos and no dodgy haircuts, Kane promises to tackle the World Cup “head on”. The 24-year old Tottenham striker was born and raised in Walthamstow, London – a city best described by famous writer Samuel Johnson who said, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”. This holds so true for this city that stuns with its architecture, art and culture scene, its gastronomy, rich sporting traditions, and world-class entertainment.
Harry Kane’s marauding runs, spectacular finishes and leadership can define England’s future after the failures of the “Golden Generation”, as he leads the English team this year.
Liverpool’s “Egyptian King’ will look to shine and bring glory to his people in Russia 2018! Sensational amongst Liverpool supporters, Mohamed Salah hails from Egypt, a timeless country that beckons intrepid travellers with its shimmering monuments, the beguiling Nile, the captivating desert, and of course, it’s Pharonic temples and the near-eternal pyramids!
Raised in Nagrig, a village north of the capital Cairo, Salah started training at the age of 8, and is lionised in his native country, owing to his legendary performance in European clubs. In addition, with a record of 32 Premier League goals to his name this year, the young Pharoah will be rearing to go, keeping alive the hopes of Egyptian football fans.