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Bouncing Brazilians & Mancs in Montevideo

Sunday meant a Gremio away game in Novo Hamburgo, an hour north of Porto Alegre.

It was in the Gaucho tournament, played by all the major clubs of Rio Grande do Sul and 7,000 away fans flooded into town, then paid eight quid for a ticket before taking over three sides of the 9,000 capacity ground.

Then they sang non-stop for two hours, bouncing up and down. I love the enthusiasm and passion of the Brazilian fans, but they must have been more knackered than the players.

Another 500 didnâÂÂt buy tickets, but stood instead in the nearby streets, drinking beer and buying meat from impromptu BBQs. And chanting Gremio. A line of police on horseback made sure they didnâÂÂt overwhelm the small stadium.

"You're supposed to be at home..."

Gremio won 5-1 against their opponents who had no less than five shirt sponsors. Word went round that their rivals Inter were about to sell their best player Alex (who came on for Kaka to make his Brazil debut in October) "to England."

âÂÂWhere in England?â I asked a nearby fan.


From Brazil we left the airport where Robinho was on the front cover of the respected Veja news magazine for his off-field exploits under the headline "Why doesnâÂÂt he grow up?" and headed south to Montevideo, Uruguay.

After hiring a car which the Flintstones would have turned their noses up, we drove two hours east to Punta Del Este â the Ibiza of South America at the edge of the River Plate.

Argentinian money (and a fair few corrupt European politicians who fled rather than face charges) helped Punta prosper, so I was surprised to hear a northern English accent as we settled down in a bar at sunset.

âÂÂItâÂÂs Alrightâ by Sterling Void was playing and life was close to perfect. Then my curiosity got the better of me.

âÂÂExcuse me, where are you from?â I asked the lad with the northern twang.



âÂÂOldham, but I live over here. You?âÂÂ

âÂÂManchester,â I replied.

âÂÂIâÂÂm a blue. YouâÂÂre not a United w**ker are you?âÂÂ

That was it. I politely inquired where he was from and he asked me if I was a United w**ker. I could think of many who would have sparked him out there and then, but their middle name isnâÂÂt Boutros Boutros-Ghali like mine.

I thought about saying: âÂÂIâÂÂm not into football, but if you need any hints on carp fishing IâÂÂm your man. ThereâÂÂs a good bait shop near Boundary Park as it happens.âÂÂ

Instead I said: âÂÂYes, I support United.âÂÂ

âÂÂOh f**k off,â he replied, with genuine anger. It was my time to be a smartarse.

âÂÂIâÂÂve just got back from watching them in Tokyo.âÂÂ

âÂÂWhy, what happened there?âÂÂ

An imaginary drum roll rippled through my head. A sell out Free Trade Hall awaited.

âÂÂYou know, when United were crowned world champions.âÂÂ

He didnâÂÂt want to hear any more.

âÂÂIâÂÂve not seen the papers for a few weeks,â I lied. âÂÂDid Kaka join City? I mean, you could see why he wanted to swap Maldini for Richard Dunne.âÂÂ

Richard Dunne almost had Kaka fooled... almost

With that he was off. And the sun had finally set.

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