England fans flock to Dubai as Three Lions kick off World Cup glory bid

Three Lions supporters in jubilant mood at Dubai Media City fan zone for tournament opener against Iran

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England fans turned out in force in Dubai as the Three Lions got their bid for World Cup glory off to a roaring start.

The sprawling Dubai Media City fan zone was transformed into a sea of red and white on Monday as England took on Iran in the second game of the tournament.

Supporters were in full voice and in high spirits at the amphitheatre even before the game kicked off.

There was plenty to cheer about for the throngs of fans as their side raced into a 3-0 lead at half-time before running out 6-2 winners.

Thoughts were even turning to England's crucial clash with the United States on Friday, with a Doha date with destiny in sight.

“It’s going to be great as there are 15 of us going over to Qatar for the game against the US on Friday,” said Harry Derrick, a Dubai resident who was cheering on England at the fan zone.

“There’s a great atmosphere around the place and everyone is just really excited.”

He was watching the game with Jack Jersey, another Dubai resident also hoping to see England victorious.

“There’s been an incredible buzz for the last three months here and everyone’s excited now it’s finally here,” he said.

Accountant Nicola Lord, from Manchester, was watching the game with her family at the McGettigan’s fan zone.

“I don’t really follow football but I’ll get behind the team and it’s good to come here and be close to the action,” said the 38-year-old.

“My husband is going to some of the games.”

A winter wonderland for fans

England and Iran fans gather at the Dubai Media City fan zone for the World Cup clash on Monday. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Another England supporter said the tournament felt very different to previous world cups, given it was taking place in winter instead of summer.

“It just doesn’t feel the same but I think it will really get going for me tonight when England play,” said Tom Keating 31, a sales manager from Birmingham.

Also cheering on Gareth Southgate's team was Daniel Baker, 35, from Sheffield, who relished the atmosphere in Dubai.

“It feels amazing to be able to sit here and watch it all on the big screen and hopefully we can get the win,” said Mr Baker, a Dubai resident who works in finance.

“You can never take anything for granted but it’s fantastic it’s finally here.”

While the vast majority of fans in attendance were backing England. Iran were also represented with some supporters donning their national team’s jersey.

Backing Iran

“I am not very confident we will do well but you never know,” said Dana Ravanbakhsh, a 37-year-old HR manager living in Dubai.

“This isn’t the first World Cup we have been to and I hope we do the same as in France 98 when we beat the US.”

His interview was cut short when he was spotted by a group of England fans who decided to serenade him with some boisterous but good-natured singing, after spotting him decked out in opposition colours.

It was in keeping with the spirit of the tournament that he was then happy to embrace those same fans and pose for pictures.

Iran fans at World Cup - in pictures

Updated: November 21, 2022, 3:16 PM