As the world's greatest football extravaganza unfolds in South Africa in three days, the spectators' gallery will host two familiar faces from India who have made it a point to be present in every World Cup since 1982.
Meet 77-year-old Pannalal Chatterjee and his wife Chaitali, 67, who have been religiously attending the FIFA World Cup for the last seven editions with a dream to watch their favourite team Brazil host the cup in 2014.
A former Kolkata Port Trust employee, Pannalal, who lives in a narrow bylane at Kidderpore in south Kolkata, saves money to be able to make it to the 'football festival'. "Brazil is the the Mecca of football. Hope we will be alive till then to see the World cup in that country... that's our only wish," the duo told PTI in an interview.
The couple said they always take the Tricolour with them and keep them flying high as curious spectators ask when India will play football. "We have no answer to their queries... But we tell them we are proud Indians and have come here to watch the World Cup," Pannalal said.
A club-level player himself in the 1950s and an avid football fan, Pannalal's tryst with the World Cup began way back in 1982 when he was holidaying at his friend's place in London. "We made use of the opportunity to visit Spain and watched a match together. The spirit of football, the grandeur of the World Cup stayed on with us and then we planned to watch the 1986 edition in Mexico," Pannalal, also an Under-19 AIFF technical committee member, said.
They said they had been fortunate to have witnessed the famous 'Hand of God' goal by Diego Maradona in the 1986 Argentina vs England quarterfinal which is a part of folklore now.