The former Boro midfielder recalled his time in the group on Teesside and the iconic Steaua Bucharest game
As more Teessiders arrive in Qatar to catch England at the World Cup . , five Boro fans got more than they bargained for.
Bryan Walker from Stockton arrived in Qatar late on Monday to meet up with four friends ahead of England’s final group game of the tournament against Wales on Tuesday. Boro fans were hoping for a quiet afternoon and a few drinks before the big day when they found out the Ghana national football team would be staying at their hotel.
Bryan and fellow Stockton boys Ben Cooke, Nick Cooke, Tommy Walker and Nathaniel Aaron were in the lobby of their Doha hotel when they caught sight of the national team arriving from a 3-2 win over Japan just hours earlier. Noticing the team walking through the doors, they knew there was one person they were hoping to see – George Boateng.
The former Middlesbrough FC midfielder is now an assistant coach with Ghana but remains a Teesside legend after six years at the Riverside. Fortunately, the group spotted the former club captain who replaced current England manager Gareth Southgate as captain and he was more than keen to reminisce with them.
Bryan said: “We’re staying in the same hotel as the Ghana team and we met George Boateng who apparently coaches the Ghana team. We see them come in and we’re all huge Middlesbrough fans and the only person we wanted to see was George Boateng.
” He was brilliant, really friendly and he was probably talking about his old days at Middlesbrough and Steaua Bucharest. He said their victory today was there when he was at Middlesbrough.”
The Dutchman still has special memories of Boro’s unforgettable 4-2 win against Romania in the UEFA Cup semi-final more than 16 years ago. -final All Five ‘Boro fans were delighted to start their World Cup experience on a great home ground and are now looking forward to facing England tomorrow despite landing hours before.
After arriving in Qatar, 37-year-old Bryan said: “It’s really good, there is. a real festive mood. “I know there’s been a lot of press coverage that there’s no drinking here, but that’s not the case, it looks like they put on a really good show.”
“We are all so excited for tomorrow’s game” He explained that the tournament is well organized and Qatar has special fan services from the moment you hit the ground, meaning there wasn’t too much waiting at the airport. Bryan also said that transfers to the stadiums will also be free for those attending the match, making it quick and easy for them to get to the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium ahead of England’s game against Wales.
He will be hoping for a good performance from the team tomorrow after their last disappointing match against USA which resulted in a 0-0 draw. The Stockton native believes Wales’ need to win on Wednesday night will play into England’s hands as they “perform better when teams come to attack them”.
On his plans for the end of the tournament, Bryan said: “At the moment my flight home is at 8, but it all depends on how England go. I’ll be here as long as England are here.”