A die-hard England fan whose daughter shares the name of the city in which the Three Lions face Sweden in tomorrow’s World Cup quarter-final showdown hopes the coincidence will be a lucky omen.
John Cartwright’s nine-year-old girl is called Samara, with England set to play in the Russian city of the same name’s Samara Arena in this weekend’s huge encounter.
It is the first time since 2006 that England have reached the last eight of a major tournament and following Tuesday’s nail-biting victory over Colombia, which saw the team win a penalty shootout in a World Cup for the first time, fans are now dreaming that Gareth Southgate’s side can go all the way.
John, who is married to Allison, 42, and also dad to Bobby, 10, told the Mail: “What I can say is that we didn’t name her after the stadium or the city! “When England won the game on Tuesday night her brother mentioned that they would be playing in Samara so it’s just a big coincidence.
“I’m not the type of pushy dad who usually makes a big noise about things like this but it’s quite amazing.”
The family themselves, of The Fens in Hartlepool, are now optimistic that England can at least make the final and even win the tournament for the first time since 1966.
The Three Lions have never been further than the semi-final stage since winning the competition, with Sir Bobby Robson’s team reaching the last four in the 1990 contest which was held in Italy.
“We’re going away to Lincoln at the weekend but we’ll certainly all be watching and shouting them on,” said John, who supports Hartlepool United and Newcastle United as well as the national team.
“I really didn’t want it to go to penalties the other night because we all know what England’s history is, but the squad we have now looks totally fearless and ready to go for it.
“I think it’s coming home.
“I’ve even got a bet on England to win the World Cup and Harry Kane to be the tournament’s top goalscorer so both of those are coming off at the minute.
“I’m confident that they’ll beat Sweden and I think it’ll be 3-1 to England with two from Kane and one from Jesse Lingard.”
Should England win tomorrow they will face either Russia or Croatia in the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, on Thursday, with kick-off at 7pm.
The final is on July 15.