A signature experience: footy fan gets host of top players to sign shirt
WHEN he set off for his World Cup adventure Mike Griffin hoped he might see a few games and maybe bump into a couple of famous players.
Six weeks on and the Kerryman has got signatures from 22 of the best-known exponents of the game and even blagged his way onto the pitch on Sunday night to snatch an autograph from Germany's Mesut Ozil just minutes after his side won football's most coveted prize.
Diego Maradona, Ruud Van Nistlelrooy, Alan Shearer, Patrick Vieria and Fabio Cannavaro are among the famous faces the 25-year-old met on his travels.
His autograph book was his GAA club jersey, Na Gaeil in Tralee, which he now hopes to auction or sell for a children's charity.
Mike (25) puts his success down to a mixture of being in the right place at the right time and having a good, old-fashioned brass neck.
"I was near Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro and I noticed there was a lot of security outside one of the hotels and when I inquired they told me the Dutch team was staying there and they were down on the beach," he told the Irish Independent.
"I went down and suddenly I was surrounded by the entire squad." Mike has been keeping a bilingual video diary of his adventure and says he has taken hundreds of photographs and videos of the trip.
He attended six matches including Sunday night's final between Argentina and Germany. He says he made up his mind to go to the World Cup last year and saved hard for the trip but it was all worth it in the end.
"It was absolutely fantastic and not as expensive as I thought it would be and definitely worth it," he said.