On Monday 11th October 2010 I went to Pride Park, the home of Derby County, to watch an International Friendly match between Brazil, the 2014 World Cup hosts, and Ukraine, the Euro 2012 co-hosts.
As soon as I heard that Brazil were playing at Pride Park, I was desperate to go, as it isn’t every day Brazil are playing just an hour away.
We set off from Sheffield full of excitement and arrived about 40 minutes before kick off. The atmosphere outside the ground was brilliant, fans of both nations were singing, dancing and making plenty of noise. It is the type of atmosphere I would imagine at a World Cup stadium, with lots of colours and noise.
We went into the stadium just as the players came out of the tunnel. The teams came out to the FIFA anthem and lined up. The Brazil squad was filled with the likes of Robinho, Dani Alves, Ramieres, Lucas and Alexandre Pato. It was amazing seeing them right in front of you, after I had watched them in the World Cup just months earlier.
While the players were singing their national anthem’s, I had a picture with Derby County’s Robbie Savage, who was reporting for ESPN. I just turned around after having the photo and noticed Andriy Shevchenko, who was out injured, signing for a couple of fans in the stands, so I ran over and got a picture with him. Shevchenko is by far the most famous footballer I have met to date. He has won the Champions League, Serie A, FA Cup, Ukrainian Premier League and many more trophies. He has played for AC Milan, Chelsea and Dynamo Kiev, won the 2004 European Player of the Year, and played 100 times for Ukraine.
Brazil kicked off in front of 13,088 fans (which was actually less than the Johnstones Paint Trophy game at Hillsborough last week!) and it was immediately noticeable how good Brazil were. The way they knocked the ball around and look so confident was a world away from anything I had seen before.
Dani Alves had the first chance for the Brazilians, but he chipped the ball over the bar. Ukraine had their first and only real chance of the first half but ‘keeper Victor chested the ball away for a corner.
On the 25th minute, Robinho got the ball on the edge of the box, crossed it in and it was met by Dani Alves who fired the ball into the net to give Brazil a 1-0 lead. It was nearly 2-0 when Pato broke through one-on-one, but his shot smacked the post and the rebound was fired over.
At half time we headed down to the front near the dugouts, where many fans were all crowded, to try and get some good photos and see some famous players up close.
Brazil continued their dominance in the second half, having plenty of good chances and playing brilliant football. Alexandre Pato made it 2-0, who received the ball in the box, turned and scored.
The game ended 2-0 to Brazil, who had easily been the better side all game, and it had been a great experience to watch the Brazilian stars play.
We waited behind after the game to get some more photos inside the stadium as other fans left, and watch the players being interviewed pitch side.
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who wasn’t in the Brazil squad but had come along to watch the game, came out to sign a few autographs for fans. Despite a bit of a crush, I got to the front and managed to get a picture with him which I was pleased with.
I had a brilliant evening at Pride Park watching Brazil. It was a great experience watching the Brazilian superstars play football, and something I will remember forever.