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Romero: World Cup is everything and more

By Jose Romero - Jun 29, 2018

Probably the greatest part of this 2018 World Cup is seeing how enchanted my son is with the matches, the players, the game and the world. 

He is 5 years old, and buying the Panini World Cup sticker album and player stickers has brought him closer to the entire experience. He hums anthems, recognizes flags, can name as many cities in Russia as I can and can name a player on almost all 32 teams, including Tunisia, Morocco and Panama. 

On Thursday I found one of the only Mexico World Cup T-shirts in the entire Phoenix area at a local Big 5 in his size, and bought it. He put it on immediately and wore it the rest of the day, 24 hours after waving his Mexico car flag during the playing of the Himno Nacional. 

World Cup fever, and truly El Tri fever, has gripped our part of the country. Restaurants have been packed with fans gathered together to cheer our neighbors to the south. No politics, no fear, no hate and only jokes about how Memo Ochoa is the wall that Trump seeks to build. It's wonderful. 

And we have watched with delight as Mexicans celebrated with Koreans, thanking them for helping Mexico make it to the knockout round. We have seen thousands of Peru fans at matches involving that team, just thrilled to be part of the nation's first World Cup experience this century.  

We have been enthralled with the gritty play of Peru, Nigeria and Iran, teams that challenged higher-ranked teams to the end before departing in the group stage. Peru was so close to a win over Denmark. Iran was inches from sending mighty Portugal and supernova Cristiano Ronaldo home.

And the players. Can there be much of an argument that Ronaldo is not the premier scorer in the world? 

So as we reach the last couple of weeks of the World Cup, it's safe to say that while not having a U.S. team in the tournament is still unfathomable, many in our country have still tuned into Telemundo and FOX for matches. And if you think it's big for us now, even WITHOUT a national team in the fight, wait until 2026 when the World Cup comes to North America.

Soccer became a much bigger part of my life after childhood. It is already a part of my son's young life, and I couldn't be happier.

For many including myself and my family, going to a World Cup match is a "bucket list" kind of thing. We can't wait to be part of it. 

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