When Anita Sambol agreed to be part of FIFA’s Fan Movement for the World Cup this summer, she never imagined she’d end the tournament watching her home country in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium. Here, over four parts, she tells her extraordinary tale.
Day 3 in Moscow and trip home
Even though we were still sad and angry and tired – I wish there was a word to replace these three words, I’d use it a lot – we had an exciting day in front of us.
Our last day in Moscow was reserved for breakfast with Anna, a Russian Gooner that some of you may know from Twitter. I’ve been chatting with her for years there and on Facebook and we finally got to meet in Moscow.
We met for a fantastic breakfast near Bolshoi theatre in the city centre and chatted about everything.
Anna is so lovely and answered all our questions about Moscow and Russia in general.
We, of course, chatted about Arsenal too, both of us very excited about the new season and new challenges in front of us.
Anna talked about the World Cup and what it meant for Russians, and the troubles they had getting tickets. We all agreed that it was an amazing tournament and great organisation by the Russians.
She mentioned that the cleanliness of the streets is not a World Cup thing – it’s a normal thing in Moscow which makes it even more amazing.
Anna showed us around Kremlin park which we hadn’t seen yet, and it looked amazing. It was a hot day but worth the stroll.
We took some more photos, walked to Red Square again and bought some more souvenirs before heading back to the hotel to pick up our stuff and fly home.
We were then, once again, reminded about the importance of Fan IDs and tickets. Our train to the airport was free because we attended the match, and anyone who attended could travel for free two days before and after the match.
Once again fantastic organization!
Our flight back home was over Prague with Czech Airlines. In Moscow, we had to wait in line for check-in, and while in Prague we had to wait for three hours, one hour longer than planned, because the flight was delayed. In the end, we just wanted to get home, although, I have to say, a stopover in Prague was fun!
We went to grab some food in their food court which was amazing, so if you’re ever stuck there like us, definitely go check it out. Freshly cooked food, tastes great, and is cheap – a winning combination.
There, I ran into a Southampton fan who saw my Arsenal shirt and, of course, asked what I think about Emery.
You can’t escape that these days!
While we were waiting for the plane, the Croatian national team arrived in Zagreb to a spectacular welcome and a huge party. Thanks to wonderful modern technology, we were able to watch it live on our phones so felt a part of it too even though we were far away from home.
I’m sure you’ve seen photos and videos from that day – it was as if we won the World Cup! The whole nation recognised how massive this achievement was and how hard the players worked for it so 550,000 of them came to greet the team in Zagreb.
It was a massive party with lots of love and good vibes.
Our plane finally arrived – it was a propeller plane so we checked that one off our list as well – and some two hours later we were in rainy Zagreb, tired, happy to be home, sad about the match, and full of new memories. We drove back to Varaždin right away, to sleep in our own bed finally.
If you’ve come this far, thank you. I really appreciate you reading through my ramblings. I left so much out and it still is a massive article.
It was a once in a lifetime experience, and we both feel so lucky to be given such an amazing prize and will never forget it.
A massive massive thanks to Seven League digital agency and the whole FIFA Fan Movement team for making our dreams come true and making us feel like celebrities.
Huge hugs for all the wonderful people we met in Moscow, who, even though we were meeting in real life for the first time, still felt like long-time friends.
Thanks also to social media, something that gets slated regularly, but it has brought me so much good personally.