Flying with Dutch legend Marco van Basten, drinking beers with Portugese manager Carlos Queiroz and eating breakfast next to professional English pundit Chris Waddle – how four years make a difference for one father and son.
Iain Meiklejohn, from Corstorphine, was scammed out of World Cup final tickets in 2014, leaving them heartbroken and £2000 out of pocket.
But their dream came true when they were handed tickets to last Sunday’s World Cup final in Russia after a video of his six-year-old son Aleks went viral. The all-expenses trip, paid for by FIFA, meant the pair flew out to Moscow to watch France be crowned champions after beating Croatia 4-2.
On their arrival, the pair were shocked to discover they were sharing a hotel with many world famous names.
Iain said: “It was an absolutely brilliant weekend from start to finish. We got to see the French team as they left the airport before us in Moscow. The whole situation has been flipped, which makes it all the sweeter. Aleks was supporting France as well because he had them in the sweepstake and won £60.
“The final had everything and it was such a great game. We stayed in the stadium for around 90 minutes after the final whistle just taking in what had just happened. It was crazy to meet so many famous footballers. We got a picture with Stuart Pearce. Chris Waddle was eating breakfast next to us, Carlos Queiroz had a beer with fans, while Marco van Basten was on our flight home.
“Marco was two seats in front of us and when I told Aleks it’s him who scored that great goal in 1988, he knew.”
Iain, 42, had taken son Aleks to Russia to support his mum Iwona’s native Poland in the competition’s group stages. But after Poland were dumped out of the tournament after being thrashed 3-0 by Columbia, Aleks was left in tears. A moving video of the Gylemuir Primary School pupil being cheered up by opposition fans went viral and later became winners of FIFA’s “Rival Hug” competition.
Proud Scot Iain, who has flown all over the world with the Tartan Army, praised Russia for being a “fantastic” host nation.
He said: “Russia has been absolutely brilliant. The people are so friendly and it’s been a great atmosphere. The fans have embraced Russia and Russia has embraced the fans. They couldn’t have done more for the fans.”
The pair were brought back to reality on their return to the Capital after watching Edinburgh City get beaten 5-0 by Motherwell in the Scottish Cup on Tuesday.
But their amazing adventure is not over yet after Edinburgh City got in touch with Iain to offer the family hospitality tickets for Saturday’s match against Queen of the South.
He said: “I got a call from the admin at the club, who said the chairman Jim Brown had seen we’d taken an Edinburgh City scarf over to Russia and got pictures at the World Cup. Even better, Iwona has been asked to come along too. She was devastated to miss out on the World Cup final, so it’s great we will be going as a family.”