Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Long story as Brazilians eye Welsh soccer minnows

AFP, LONDON

Brazilian soccer players are battling to play for tiny Welsh team Llanfairpwll FC after the team’s name caught the imagination of the soccer-crazy nation.

Brazil has a well-earned reputation for exporting world-class talent to European superpowers like Barcelona, Manchester United and AC Milan, but for some of the country’s less illustrious amateur players, it is Llanfairpwll that is the destination of choice.

The bizarre story started when a Portuguese newspaper wrote an article about Llanfairpwll because its full name is believed to be the longest in club soccer.

Llanfair PG, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch to give its full name, is a village on the island of Anglesey in Wales.

It is in the Guinness World Records for being the place with the longest name in Britain.

A Brazilian TV channel picked up the story and ever since Llanfairpwll have been flooded with e-mails and calls from South Americans wanting to play for the club.

While the image of players more used to honing their skills on the sun-baked beaches of Rio suddenly turning up for a game in a wind-swept village in Wales is an unlikely one, Llanfairpwll player Steve Smith said they have had contact from Brazil and Chile, among other countries.

With so many visiting the club Web site, it now gives information in Portuguese.

“I’ve had a few people from Brazil saying they want to come over but they want us to pay their airfare,” Smith told the BBC. “I don’t think that is going to happen.”

The Brazilian infatuation with Llanfairpwll shows no sign of fading and a TV crew from the country is said to be planning a visit to the team, currently top of the Welsh Alliance League Division 2.

Llanfairpwll player Brendon Hogan said: “It’s quite unbelievable. I think everyone is getting to know us. We are doing well this season. Hopefully, we can get better next season and get a wider fan base. They are more than welcome to come — as long as they don’t take my position.”

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