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World Cup 2018 increases the mutual admiration of football stars



It was almost three in the morning in London, and Harry Kane could not get up from his couch – could not even lift his head off his hands. That was three years ago, long before he, as the team's youngest captain, could carry the weight of English expectations. On February 1, 2015, Kane was struck immobile in his living room by the same thought that every other Patriots fan had: The Seahawks will hand over the ball to Marshaw Lynch, and nothing can do New England. Super Bowl XLIX is over.

Two years earlier, Kane had searched England's second division for seasons and doubted his own future as a footballer. Searching for inspiration on YouTube, he found The Brady 6 a documentary about Tom Brady's rise from the sixth-round draft pick to the ever-great quarterback.

"I fell in love with the story," Kane says, "What he had to do to prove himself wrong ̵

1; it was a similar situation to myself."

He soon released photos of himself wearing social media Patriot gear and spending hours playing Madden his early brother-in-law, Tom Goodland, a great NFL fan who helped Kane do so to teach the game rules. The English football star is now such an American football junkie that he and his fiancée Kate have a dog named Brady. (If her Instagram post "Hate Sundays #redzone" is an indication, Kate is not such a big fan.) Kane had to be alone on this early morning of 2015 ( and Twitter ) When Malcolm Butler won over Russell Wilson and secured a 28-24 Super Bowl victory for the Pats, he is now far from the only football star to have fallen into the NFL.

  Harry Kane takes on England at the 2018 World Cup

In 2017, Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was on hand to watch the recent triumph of the Patriots in Houston, with England midfielder and Eagles fan Eric Dier scoring a small victory ahead of the big game this season In part through online games and international exhibitions, Bromance is a mutual.

While former Bears coach Mike Ditka famously celebrates "If God wanted man to play football, he would not have given us weapons," NFL locker rooms are now full of players who play one of the world's best-selling video games with these weapons, FIFA the Electronic Arts created in 1993 after the success of Madden . In Green Bay, offensive linemen command a space for their two-on-two FIFA bouts. Although Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers does not play often, he holds his own, teammate and tackle David Bakhtiari says, because "frankly, Aaron is good at everything he does."

Ravens linemen Jermaine Eluemunor and Ronnie Stanley, along with Wideout's Chris Moore, online team, each manages a bespoke player on a shared Pro Club account. Eluemunor, an England striker who lost to the NFL in 2007 for the first time in the London Series, is always playing as a midfielder to better control the action. In Washington, DC, cornerback Josh Norman is known to claim a $ 200 challenger.

"You can not come down and expect to play the top guy," he told The Ringer last November.

Recipients Jarvis Landry (Browns) and Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) have been fans of Cristiano Ronaldo since they were teammates at LSU in 2011, where they repeatedly simulated Real Madrid against Real Madrid matchups. While Madden is complex for novices (several football players said they enjoy the game but avoid online contests), FIFA provides an easier-to-access introduction to the global game. Football now permeates Sundays, from pre-game rainbow playing to after-game jersey scarves.

  NFL star Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr are both big football fans

Tottenham Hotspur FC / Getty Images (2)


For 20 years, US goalkeeper Tim Howard has watched the two footballs approach as he approaches

"It's unbelievable that mutual respect has grown," says Howard, who has a James Harrison Steelers jersey hanging in his Memphis house.

For the past 11 years, the NFL has hosted 21 games in London's football stadiums, with three more scheduled for October. These encounters have attracted fans like Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, Austrian defender David Alaba and English goalkeeper Jack Butland, who last season wore a Rodgers jersey for a Viking Browns game. In 2016, Norman's French midfield player Paul Pogba saw his first NFL game as the Redskins played the Bengals at Wembley.

<img src = "https://cdn-s3.si.com/s3fs-public/2018/05/30/pogba-norman-sanders-nfl-man-united.jpg" alt = "Emmanuel Sanders and Josh Norman posing with Paul Pogba at the Manchester United training ground [19659012JohnPeters/ManUnited/GettyImages

This summer, after the World Cup, football clubs from five European countries will play 17 games in the US as part of the International Champions Cup Real Madrid and Barcelona's 66,000 in Miami saw Landry become an even bigger fan when he saw Barça win 3-2 at Hard Rock Stadium.

"The skills are at a different level," he says Do not imagine what these guys will look like. "

After a close grip, Coby Fleener in the New York Times attacked Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck" speaks more about football than some of his Teammates would like to, "Luck and Fleener went to Liverp ool play at West Ham. The 2-1 LFC victory dampened Fleeners complaints about the football-Fútbol conversation.

"When you observe something in person, you realize how incredible it is," says Luck, who spent much of his childhood in England and Germany. "Seeing a man kick the ball 60 yards and put it perfectly on the left knee of a sprint on the left side is much easier to guess."

Kane has made several tours in the US with Tottenham Hotspur. In 2014, he and several teammates worked with the Seahawks in their training facility, an experience that Kane calls "a dream come true." Seattle Linebacker K.J. Wright, who did not succeed despite Tottenham's tutoring, was thrilled with the interaction with the football stars.

"To meet people I play with in video games was really fun," Wright told the Seattle Times . (Kane, despite his time in Seattle, remained a Pat fan.) The Massachusetts-born American defense lawyer Geoff Cameron is more militant about his affiliation with New England, he refused a separate opportunity to visit the Seahawks.)

Players are developing also relationships in their own time. Kane exchanges lyrics with Pat's Wideout Julian Edelman; Courtois made a friendship with defensive ending Chris Long after hearing the two-time Super Bowl winner was a Chelsea fan; and Stanley joined with German defender Jerome Boateng through their joint agency Roc Nation. Meanwhile, Bakhtiari has worked hard to meet his favorite player Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He flew to England in January, but the Swedish striker, then with Man United, injured. Nevertheless, Bakhtiari was impressed with how Liverpool's Anfield Stadium rocked the day before, when thousands of fans sang in unison. After Ibra joined the LA Galaxy in March, Bakhtiari attended a match and asked for an introduction after the game. Bakhtiari expected a brief meet-and-greet; instead, they chatted for almost an hour. Ibrahimovic was not in an NFL game, but Bakhtiari is confident that he has earned the loyalty of Sweden.

"I'll keep going and say, we have it," says Bakhtiari. "Zlatan is a Packers fan."

With the US out of the World Cup, football fans in the NFL will have shared loyalty. Landry will rock because of Ronaldo for Portugal. Luck has decided to support Mexico, although he is always rooted in El Tri when facing the American men's national team. Norman and Stanley will be among the Americans hoping to play games in Russia, but they will find their friends – Norman supports Pogba and France, Stanley supports Boateng's German team. As for Jaguar footballer Josh Lambo, he does not believe he can cheer for anyone.

"After wearing the national team jersey, I do not think I can ever take root for another country," he says.

Lambo played goalkeeper for a US youth team against German Toni Kroos and Belgian Eden Hazard before becoming the first player to move from high-quality football to the NFL – a move Kane would like to repeat. The Premier League ends ,

"I always said I'd like to try to see if it would be possible," Kane told SI.com last summer. "It depends on how my career goes and how I hurt and how I get older, but when I get on a stage where I'm still fit and feel I can do a job, I would love it have a team in England, it could work perfectly. "


  Ndamukong Suh supports Nigeria in the World Cup

" Football was my first love, "says Rams Nose tackle Ndamukong Suh," and I think it will always be like that . "

Suh's father played Semipro in Germany when he became a mechanical engineer; His older sister spent time as a midfielder in Cameroon's national team and played in the 2008 African Women's Championship. While other NFL players recently went to football, Suh grew up with the sport before physically dropping out in eighth grade. He has been addicted since 1994 when he saw Cameroon play a World Cup match in the USA. Cameroon did not qualify this year, so Suh adopted Nigeria because it is an African country and because it accepts refugees from its southern neighbor. On the other hand, a number of young US side players havetened to popularize other football with their Bundesliga team-mates in Germany. Weston McKennie (Schalke) and Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) set aside their club rivalry for a Super Bowl party last February together with Schalke youth players and Virginia-born Nick Taitague. Schalke U-19 keeper Timon Weiner hosted a party with chicken wings and biscuits from Subway for the group.

"A few years ago, teammates never spoke of [the Super Bowl]," says Taitague. "It's cool to see."

  USMNT teammates Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic are in rival Bundesliga clubs

Robin Alam / Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

The group stayed awake at 5am to win the Eagles 41-33. The next day, players debated Butler's bench-banking and reviewed highlights to understand how Philadelphia's quarterback Nick Foles performed the four-part trick game. As Kane is rooted for Brady from England, as well as the 19-year-old Florian Kruger in Germany

"He is like an idol for me," says the Schalke striker.

Krüger (a Rams fan) and Weiner (19659004) a fan of Giants) spent the next few months worrying about the mock drafts to keep Taitague up to date with the latest rumors.

The Super Bowl will never match the World Cup, no matter how many games the NFL plays continents. But after the trophy was awarded in Moscow on 15 July, the ties between professional footballers and football players will continue to grow. And FIFA 19 should appear in September.


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