An England fan who attended the 1966 World Cup win is hoping to witness a repeat in Qatar 56 years later.
David Thompson has followed the Three Lions at four overseas World Cups although his first experience of international football’s biggest tournament came as a five-year-old, when he lived in Essex.
His father Keith won a raffle to secure two tickets to the 1966 showpiece, but the 61-year-old cannot recall much beyond the “noise and the clackers” of England’s 4-2 win against West Germany.
Mr Thompson’s second World Cup but first full experience was in South Africa in 2010 with his wife Yasemin where they spent six weeks in the country and decided to attend every game they could that featured an Everton player regardless of the country.
This saw the couple make about 20 games, including the opening game for South Africa featuring Steven Pienaar and the final where then Toffees defender Johnny Heitinga was sent off for the Netherlands.
Mr Thompson travelled to Brazil in 2014 with his wife, who died aged 50 in August 2021, and with friends to Russia in 2018 before he decided to make it four-in-a-row in by visiting Qatar.
Everton and Marine AFC fan Mr Thompson, who lives in Canterbury by way of Liverpool, will miss Saturday’s quarter-final tie with France at the Al Bayt Stadium due to work commitments in the UK.
But he has tickets for the semi-finals and final if England make it through and plans to return to Qatar even if Gareth Southgate’s men do not progress.
Mr Thompson, who works in the travel industry and is club president at Marine, said he is “cautiously optimistic” about England’s chances.
Speaking to the PA news agency in Doha, Mr Thompson said he has “really enjoyed” his 2022 World Cup experience.
Mr Thompson said: “I just wanted to be here. I’ve been to the last three World Cups so there’s no way I could miss out on this one.”
Asked which was his first, he replied: “South Africa. Well, my first one if you really want to know – I went to the final in 1966 but I was only a nipper.
“My dad played semi-professional football then so all the clubs got two tickets, they raffled them and my dad was lucky enough to get them.
“So all I can remember is the noise and the clackers. My dad bought me a clacker.
“That was the first one but I’ve done 2010, 2014 and I went to Russia in 2018 and done this one.”
Mr Thompson said he was unsure which team his father was playing for at the time but recalled he played for Chelmsford City at one stage and they lived in the Essex city when he was aged five.
He also explained how his wife Yasemin also encouraged him to attend the Euros final last year despite her being “very poorly” due to cancer.
Mr Thompson said his wife “refused to give up” during her illness and started fundraising for the eye cancer she was diagnosed with, known as choroidal melanoma.
Mr Thompson, who praised the ease of transport and access to stadiums for Qatar, reflected: “She would have loved this type of World Cup.”
On his hopes for England, Mr Thompson said they appear to be developing into a solid unit and “all the players coming in are doing what they need to do”.
He added: “I think they’re progressing at a nice pace. You’ve got to be optimistic for the next one.
“We can’t say we’re going to win the World Cup but you have to be optimistic.
“Once we get France – and I say once we do get past France – I’m hopeful.”
Mr Thompson explained that he has conditional tickets for the semis and final, so if England make it through he will have a spot.
He said: “I’ve got my flights booked already and I’ve got accommodation booked so if we don’t progress I’ll still come back out here and just see if I can get a ticket for the other games just to watch it really, no point wasting the accommodation.”
Mr Thompson said France do not have a bench full of “world-beaters”, adding: “Either team, England or France, if they’re on their game can win it – if they’re performing to their top level.”