Fortaleza’s Arena Castelao: tick! That’s 11 stadiums done, only 1 to go!!!
And after my last stadium visit included my parents, this time I was also accompanied by two other notable individuals – my brother Martin (who, in case you missed it, will be cycling the final 1,000 miles with me to Belem), and also ex Fortaleza, Newcastle United and Brazil international footballer Mirandinha!
The latter now works at the stadium hosting guests, including an incredible 30,000 local school children who’ve visited in the last 3 years (that’s 1,000 per month)! He was a fantastic host to us; so friendly and keen to chat about the #SambaCycle, the stadium and his football career (including mentions of Gazza, Wimbledon and scoring the winning goal here in front of 110,000 – the old stadium – in 1991’s state championship final). He even stuck around afterwards and called his mate who drives a taxi to come and take us back to our hostel – top man.
I should also mention that we met the Ceara state Sports Secretary too, Ferruccio Feitosa, who’s a bit of a dude and at one point hopped on my bike and took it for a lap around the pitch, then grabbed my WFC football and beckoned me and Mirandinha onto the hallowed turf for a quick kick-around!
All-in-all a fantastic visit to a superb stadium that’s clearly already an important part of the city and its community – it was easily the busiest of the 11 so far in terms of people milling around everywhere enjoying this excellent facility.
Fingers crossed that England make it to the World Cup quarter finals for a possible match here versus Brazil!!!
PS. Martin took lots of photos too on his proper camera, so we’ll have to come up with a way of sharing those in due course.