Search

Football focus

PUBLISHED: 14:48 11 June 2008 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 July 2010

So the whole of Britain is turned off Euro 2008 as none of the home nations are playing.

Right? Don't you believe it!

Few places is excitement greater than among the 50,000-strong Portuguese community in Norfolk.

So the whole of Britain is turned off Euro 2008 as none of the home nations are playing.

Right? Don't you believe it!

Few places is excitement greater than among the 50,000-strong Portuguese community in Norfolk.

While England fans have had to forget the usual over-hyped patriotism of big tournaments and are spared the inevitable heartache of failure, the Portuguese ex-pats who have settled in this area are confident that Ronaldo and Co can lead their homeland to triumph.

And on Saturday dozens of fans - bedecked in shirts, scarfs and banging drums - enjoyed a party to watch their team win their opening match 2-0 over Turkey and they also kick-started a nationwide Radio 5 Live roadshow which will feature communities from competing countries who have settled in Britain.

The Black Spot club on Dereham's Rash's Green industrial estate was the venue for the opening programme and listeners heard regular lively updates before, during and after the game.

“Mad Manuel” the drummer was certainly one of the light-hearted highlights and Joe Barreto - who works with migrant workers across Norfolk - also gave his verdict of why football means so much to the Portuguese.

“The Portugal team is still in out hearts wherever we are. It does not matter if we are on the Moon!”

5 Live's popular and colourful football expert Mark “Clem” Clemmit and producer Garth Brameld are travelling to 16 places around the country where there are ex-pat communities from Germans in Richmond to Italians in Bedford to Turks in Newcastle to Dutch on oil rigs off Aberdeen.

Clem said: “It is obviously no substitute for the home nations not being in the tournament but this is the third biggest sporting event in the world after the World Cup and the Olympics and it is something to celebrate.

“It is a fact finding mission into multi cultural Britain and I have discovered there are three quarters of a million Portuguese people in the UK.”

He said he was fascinated by the huge population in Norfolk and how delis, cafés and other Portuguese shops have sprung up in places like Dereham and Thetford.

Clem tipped the Portuguese to reach the tournament final to meet Spain - although he believes the Spanish will ultimately triumph.

It had been hoped there would be up to 200 fans at the club, but some are thought to have had to stay at work.

And Mr Barreto called on employers to be more flexible to allow workers to see the nation's games during the tournament.

“I really would like to see employers give people a break to see the matches,” he said.

Mr Barreto added: “I think it is flattering for 5 Live to visit us and it gives recognition for the big population we have here. It makes us proud that people identify us and I cannot wait for Portugal to go all the way and win.”

Portugal was due to be an action against the Czech Republic last night (Wednesday) in Geneva and then on Sunday against co-host nation Switzerland in Basle.

Meanwhile, the celebrations continued for the Portuguese people in Dereham on Sunday as they marked their national holiday with another party at the Black Spot club.

Tuesday was officially Portugal Day, where the death of poet Camoes - the nation's equivalent to Shakespeare - is commemorated. But as many people were working, they had a celebration on Sunday including music and dancing, traditional food, games and competitions.

Camoes wrote about Portugal's history and many achievements and became a national symbol.

He lost an eye while fighting during an adventure and is credited with saving one of his famous poems he had written by swimming with one arm and keeping the work above the water with his other arm after getting shipwrecked.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Dereham Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists