12:19PM, Thursday 12 June 2014
An outbreak of football fever is guaranteed with the 2014 Fifa World Cup kicking off in Brazil today.
England fans will be cheering on the Three Lions and supporters from other nations living in East Berkshire and South Bucks will be as desperate for their home countries to taste success.
Naomi Agius has been speaking to football nuts from Belgium to Brazil and Italy to Iran looking forward to a month-long feast of football.
Latin and South America:
Supporters from Latin and South American nations competing in the World Cup have vowed to cheer on each other if their home nations bow out.
East Berkshire is home to supporters of Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica.
"We usually all support each other in Latin America, which doesn't seem to happen in the same way in Europe," said Mexican Alejandra Cerrillo, owner of Silver Edge Jewellers in King Street, Maidenhead.
Alejandra, who is from Mexico City, will be watching the tournament together with husband Leonardo, 51, and son Sebastian, 21, a former St Piran's and Claires Court Schools pupil, who will be home from university in time for Mexico's first match against Cameroon.
The 50-year-old, of Bath Road, Maidenhead, added: "If Mexico don't make it, we would be very happy to support any other Latin American country."
Fellow Mexican, Ruth Palomino, 35, of Mercia Road, Maidenhead, is proud of her nation but not overly optimistic about the team's chances. The 35-year-old admitted she usually supports Brazil.
Honduran Lisa Miranda, 60, of Ray Park Avenue, Maidenhead, is hoping her team can emulate the London 2012 Olympics, when they narrowly lost 3-2 to Brazil in the quarter-finals.
Ecuadorian Soledad Davalos, who has lived in Osborne Road, Windsor, for four years, will be rooting for her national team - but she usually supports Brazil too.
"My husband Esteban and I usually go for other teams so there may be some rivalry towards the end," said the 36-year-old.
"He usually cheers for Argentina while I choose Brazil, so we're hoping to see one of the two in the final!"
Maidenhead-based Argentineans Paula Barbenza, 37, of Alwyn Road and friend Jessica Ferpozzi, 29, of Dalby Gardens said they hoped their home team do well.
Paula will be remaining positive however by following one simple ethos.
"Hoping is the last thing you will ever lose, so if we lose it doesn't matter," she said.
Andrea Munoz, 41, of Vansittart Road, Windsor and Noris Dukes, 35, of Boyn Hill Avenue, Maidenhead, will be cheering on their native Colombia.
For Chilean supporter, Sandra Vargas, 45, good relations will be suspended at home in St Mark's Road, Maidenhead, for the duration of the tournament as her husband is English.
"The house might be divided in half for a while!" she said.
She even joked that her children, Gabriel, 10, and Sofia, eight, who both attend Furze Platt Junior School in Oaken Grove, might have to have a flag painted on each side of their face.
Divided loyalties might also be a problem for one Holyport-based family this tournament, with mum Karla Carter, 30, and son Juan Diego, eight, backing Costa Rica for victory, while 13-year-old stepdaughter, Elouise, said she will find it hard to choose between Costa Rica and England.
Football fan Pieter Lammens will be rooting for Vincent Kompany and teammates from his home in Slough.
The 32-year-old from Burlington Avenue, who hails from Ghent, lived in Australia and Canada before settling in England three years ago and is mad about the game.
He also collects the shirts of all the Belgian players playing in the Premier League.
"I am a big Belgium fan as it's my home country and at the moment there's so many Belgian players playing in the Premier League," said Pieter, a customer service representative at Legoland in Windsor.
"If we make it out of the group stages and have to play Portugal, we can make it into the quarter finals.
"If Germany awaits after the group stages, it might be slightly more difficult..."
"Let's say we are the dark horses. The weather will mainly help the South and Central American teams and it might really difficult to beat those in Brazil.
"But there's a really, really slight chance we'll get to the final and then anything is possible!"
If Belgium makes the final, Pieter plans on booking a ticket home to see the game on a big screen in one of the city's squares.
The host nation has its own supporters in the Royal Borough.
Maria Costa, who owns Maria Costa Hair and Beauty Salon in Windsor, is confident Luiz Felipe Scolari's men can overcome a troubled build up to come out on top and send the country into euphoria.
The 45-year-old was proud that her home city of Sao Paulo would be opening the tournament and believes Brazil will thrive in the spotlight.
"Brazil will be one big party," said Maria.
"My daughter still lives there, she has painted the front of her house green and yellow already. It's brilliant."
Rita Cedrola, from Sandy Mead, Holyport, is also from São Paulo, will also be rooting for Brazil.
Titus Anagho, of Grenfell Road, thinks his home country have high hopes of winning.
The former science teacher at Cox Green School, who now teaches maths at the Focus School in Stoke Poges, reckons that Cameroon are in with a good chance of being crowned world champions.
The 44-year-old, who moved to the UK from his native Cameroon 25 years ago and has lived in Maidenhead for 15, said that in a bid to improve the players’ abilities, the team brought in some help from professional German football coaches.
"They are very experienced and have helped teams win a lot of leagues and trophies," he said.
"The team have had the coaching that they need, so they have every chance of doing well.
"To be honest if they had not this training, I might not be saying the same thing!"
If Cameroon are victorious, Mr Anagho said he will celebrate in true Cameroonian style, with traditional food, dress and music - though he said that the music may only be playing if Cameroon is doing well.
Germany & England:
One of the biggest tournament rivalries will be played out.
Philip King, from Laburnham Road, Maidenhead, whose mum Ute is German, will be supporting England despite the best efforts of that side of the family.
The former Desborough School pupil, who is temporarily living and working in Stuttgart, with German wife Iris, is adamant that he will be backing England - something which is encouraged by sports fan father Nigel.
"I always support England, if they go out though and Germany stay in then I might try to support Germany, though it does feel funny sometimes as there is such big rivalry between the two when it comes to football," said the 33-year-old, who was lucky enough to be living in Frankfurt, one of the host cities, when Germany hosted the World Cup back in 2006.
Kofi Aboagye will be flying the Ghanaian flag from his Cox Green home.
The 18-year-old, whose parents moved to England from Ghana more than 20 years ago, is hoping that his team will go far.
However, he thinks there chances of winning are slim as competition is tough.
"Ghana will do just fine in the World Cup," said the former Altwood School pupil, who now studies at Reading College and lives in St David's Close.
"They may not win as there are several great countries also competing, but they will get further than they did four years ago and carry on making a reputation and name for themselves."
If Ghana get knocked he said he would most probably back England for victory.
Proud Andrew Hambi has promised to invite his entire street for a barbecue and dance to Zorba the Greek if his home nation triumphs.
The IT manager at Southall-based company Donfass is a Greek-Cypriot and said that as Cyprus have never qualified for either the World Cup or European Championships, it is always left to Greece to fly the Greek flag.
"I am not fanatical but I will support them out of respect for my Greek heritage," he said.
"My parents are both Greek Cypriot who immigrated to this country in the 1950s. I was born in the UK but I never forget my roots.
"I am an also an England supporter and I would love them to win the World Cup and they have a far better chance than Greece of doing so."
The 59-year-old married dad-of-three, from Ray Mead Road, added: "Greece are 300/1 to win so these odds tell you a lot about their chances."
Eldest daughter Georgina, 23, said: "I will be supporting Greece and England - and I would have supported Ireland if they had qualified as my mother’s family is Irish.
"There will be lots of tension in the house which will be quite entertaining."
Holland & France:
Tension will reach fever pitch in one Furze Platt home as a husband and wife support opposing sides.
Rodger Jensen, a contracts director for Uxbridge-based company GlaxoSmithKline,
will be backing the Dutch for victory while his French wife, Jeanne-Marie, will be firmly behind Les Bleus.
Rivalry between the pair at their home in Harrow Lane looks set to heat up as the competition progresses.
"I think it will be friendly but intense," said 50-year-old Rodger, who is also half Danish, and who believes there may also be 'cheering, goading and even a small bet' involved between them.
He will be supporting the Netherlands as his mother is Dutch.
Wife Jeanne-Marie, 50, is originally from Lyon and immigrated to the UK in 1985.
"I like to reiterate to our two children, 19-year-old Juliette and 14-year-old George, that France is their better half," said the senior quality assurance specialist with Abbott in Maidenhead.
"They both support France but if England were to play against France, I am on my own!"
Vocal support for the Azzurri will be provided by restaurant Bianco Nero.
The restaurant in Bridge Avenue, which opened in April last year, will be televising all of Italy’s games on a big screen - including the team's first match which is against England.
Owner, Piero Mingolla, whose fiancée, fellow Italian Emanuela Dei Giudici, 34, is head chef, said: "There are high hopes in Italy for every tournament. I’m hoping we get as far as the semi-finals.
"I haven’t thought about Italy winning – but if we do, I’m sure we will take to the streets of Maidenhead like we did in 2006 when Italy won and drive around beeping our horns and flying the Italian flag!"
The 33-year-old’s parents emigrated from small Italian town, San Vito Dei Normanni, near Brindisi, with his brother Vito, in 1969. Piero was born in Taplow and has lived in Cippenham for most of his life.
The running of the restaurant is very much a family effort. Piero and his mum Maria, 65, assist in the kitchen, his brother, 45, is at front of house and his father Luigi, 72, helps out wherever he can.
The restaurant also employs two Italian waiters, Enrico and Pino, who Piero describes as part of the family.
He added that whatever happens, he looks forward to supporting Italy throughout the competition with the rest of Maidenhead’s Italian community.
Maidenhead United FC player Bobby Behzadi is used to impressing on the football pitch - but will spend his summer cheering on his native Iran from the sidelines.
The 33-year-old, who has been playing for the Magpies since 2007, is staying positive despite his team being drawn in the same group as Argentina, who he believes to be one of the favourites in the tournament.
"It is an achievement that Iran actually got there," he said.
"It is getting more and more difficult. We just have to see how it goes, anything can happen."
He joked that though winning would be beyond the team's wildest dreams, if they do, he will 'make a lot of money'.
Memories of home will be stirred when Haruyuki Tomanaga settles down to watch Japan play their first match against the Ivory Coast.
The 34-year-old, known as Tom, has only been in Britain a year where he works as an
accountant for the Pilot Pen Company in Millboard Road, Bourne End.
He said: "I worked for the company headquarters in Tokyo and was sent over to England a year ago. I will be here for about three years."
He will be supporting Japan as he settles down in his flat to follow this year's games in Brazil.
Teenager Bukky Oluyole will be proudly rooting for her home country’s team.
The 18-year-old, from Brunel Road and whose family is from Lagos, is hopeful the Super Eagles will go far after they triumphed at last year’s African Cup of Nations.
"I think we have a reasonable chance of doing well," said the year 13 pupil at Altwood School in Altwood Road.
"Our real threat is Argentina, but hopefully we can beat Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iran and get enough points to go further."
She said if Nigeria were to be crowned winners she would go out and party with other Nigerian friends.
Daria Georgievskaya will be cheering on her native country.
The 23-year-old mental heath charity worker, who is originally from Moscow, moved to the UK in 1999 and has lived in Burnham ever since.
She said: "I’d like to think that Russia will do quite well, as our team seems quite strong, but I can never be sure."
"The competition is intense so it makes it a great watch!"
If Russia get knocked out then she said will quietly cheer on England.
"It's amazing the sense of community England has around football. England seems to have a unique atmosphere that makes you want to join in," she added.
"I think England has a really good football team and I hope that if we don't win, then England will!"
The reigning World champions will have the unwavering support of Madrid-born Lourdes Gonzales who is now living in Cox Green.
She said that it is national pride rather than a keen interest in football that will have her glued to her screen this summer.
"I will be supporting Spain as it feels like the right thing to do, even more so when I am living abroad," said the 46-year-old mother-of-two, who teaches Spanish part-time.
Though husband John, 44, hails from Scotland, the family, including 12-year-old Martin, who goes to Cox Green School and four-year-old Marcos, will be firmly behind the Spaniards.
The family's second team of choice will be England.
Avid fan Bernard Burger will be cheering on the Swiss team from his home in Little Marlow.
The 71-year-old, who runs Burgers Artisan Bakery in The Causeway, Marlow, has high hopes for his native country, despite its relatively small size.
His parents immigrated to the UK in 1936 and moved to Marlow in 1942 when they set up the family confectioners.
"For me there is a big rivalry between Switzerland and England," he said.
"Even though we’re the underdogs, I would say we’re one of the top eight teams and will hopefully be playing in the semi-final.
"It would just be wonderful to see little old Switzerland beating big old England."
Despite his unwavering support, he faces tough opposition from his three grown-up children, in particular his son Matthew, 33, who is an avid England fan.
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