Clifin Francis Cycled 2,600 Miles to 2018 World Cup to Try to Meet Lionel Messi

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2018

BRONNITSY, RUSSIA - JUNE 19: Lionel Messi of Argentina arrives prior a training session at Stadium of Syroyezhkin sports school  on June 19, 2018 in Bronnitsy, Russia. (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images)
Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

Clifin Francis, a mathematics teacher from India, is cycling from Iran to Russia to the FIFA World Cup in an attempt to meet Argentina star Lionel Messi. 

Francis has detailed how, after traveling from his home by air and sea to Dubai and Iran, respectively, he hopped on his bike for the next 2,600 miles to Moscow.

"I love cycling and I am crazy about football," he told BBC Sport. "I simply combined two of my passions."

Francis has been detailing some of his adventures on social media:

When he's at the World Cup, where his country India are not involved, Francis said he'll be backing Argentina and wants to meet their star man Messi if possible.

"I worship him," said Francis. "It's my dream to meet him and ask him to sign my bicycle."

A more realistic target, perhaps, is the clash between France and Denmark in Moscow on June 26, which is the only fixture he has been able to obtain a ticket for. On Thursday, it was noted Francis still had around 286 miles to go on his epic journey.

As noted in the report, the maths teacher was originally going to travel through Pakistan, although tense relations between the country and India meant he needed to take an alternative route.

It's added Francis earns around £30 a day, while the bike be bought for his football pilgrimage set him back around £530. "It wasn't the best one for long-distance travels but that's all I could afford," he added.

It'd be a surprise if the Indian did bump into Messi on his travels. Argentina will face Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday, while their final group game will be in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

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