LIKE many England supporters Scott Shaw is hoping the summer of 2014 could finally bring an end to years of penalty shootout heartache.
But unlike most, the 27-year-old has made the 12,000 mile round trip to Brazil to follow the national team on their quest for footballing glory.
He spoke to Observer reporter Laura Maltby ahead of the tournament about the highs and lows of being an England fan, his favourite player, and how he rates the team’s chances of winning on the world’s biggest stage.
“EXPECTATION only leads to disappointment,” admits England superfan Scott Shaw, before adding: “I’ve learnt not to set expectations in life because you’ll only be gutted if it doesn’t happen and I think it’s the same with England.
“Don’t get me wrong, if we win I’ll be in floods of tears, but I think it will either be an epic failure or everything will go right and I can’t see that happening.”
Not exactly the response I was hoping for when I asked whether Roy Hodgson’s young Lions could bring home the World Cup for the first time since 1966.
And it’s especially strange given the fact Scott has taken three weeks holiday from his job as a housing officer for Orbit in Stratford to make the trip.
In addition to a 5,000-mile flight to Rio, Scott will travel to the heart of the Amazonian rainforest when England take on Italy tomorrow (Saturday), then fly to Sao Paulo for the game against Uruguay before heading north to Belo Horizonte for the final clash against Costa Rica.
And that’s just the group stages.
Should England progress any further, Scott – who estimates he has spent somewhere in the region of £3,000 on the trip – could well see his wallet taking a further pounding.
But it’s all for the love of the game and despite not holding out much hope for England this time round, the Wolves fan believes Hodgson has done the right thing by picking youngsters such as Everton midfielder Ross Barkley and Southampton starlet Luke Shaw.
“It’s about building for the future. Barkley is a little bit inconsistent but he has the potential to be a big star and although Shaw will probably play second fiddle to Leighton Baines, it’s all good experience for them.
“People always talk about Wayne Rooney, who I personally think is a baby, but he has the potential to be world class and it’s about time he lived up to that.”
So who does he think will lift the famous trophy this time around?
“Maybe Argentina or even as an outside bet, Columbia. I can’t see a European team doing it. The weather has got to be a factor and that’s part of the reason I don’t think we’ll progress beyond the group stages.”
And when the subject of his favourite ever England player is broached, Scott laughs.
“David Beckham. Easy. He was such a talented footballer who lived and breathed England and always wore his heart on his sleeve.
“Despite being vilified by the national media after his sending off against Argentina in 1998, he came back a better and stronger player.
“I was behind the goal when he scored the free kick to make it 2-2 against Greece so we qualified for the Euro 2004 tournament and it is one of those moments I’ll never forget.”
And although his hobby has cost him thousands of pounds over the years, Scott insists it is precisely because of these memories that he has no regrets.
“I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always followed England and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“I get to see beautiful countries, meet great people and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of bellowing God Save The Queen for those 38 seconds where everyone is there for the exact same reason as you.”
But while Scott admits following the national team has had its ups and downs, he believes it has helped changed his perspective on life.
Now half way through a challenge to visit every country in the world, he maintains his goal would be almost impossible if it weren’t for his football travels.
“I no longer want to spend money going out in England when I can use it to see different parts of the world. I’ve been to some unreal places and I don’t want to regret things I haven’t done so if football helps me achieve that, then all the better!”
LEFT: Scott travelled to Rio last summer for a friendly match with Brazil and will be returning to follow England’s World Cup bid. (s)
England fan Scott – pictured here on Copacabana Beach – is known for travelling round the world with a 12ft Wolves flag. (s)
Scott at Iguazu Falls – waterfalls which border Brazil and Argentina. (s)