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Cobram soccer fan loving every minute

Soccer fanatic and former Cobram Soccer Club player continues a long-standing tradition of saving 12 months’ worth of annual leave for World Cup.


Father and son soccer fanatics Vince Iannucci and son Gianluca Iannucci, 12

If you pass Vince Iannucci in the street during the next month, don’t be alarmed if he looks exhausted.

He will likely have been awake half the night, keeping track of this year’s soccer World Cup.

The soccer fanatic and former Cobram Soccer Club player has this year continued a long-standing tradition of saving 12 months’ worth of annual leave for this special occasion.

‘‘I’m hanging out to watch every game, so I’ll be up at all hours, ’’ Mr Iannucci said.

‘‘All of my brothers-in-law are also into it, we all follow it fairly passionately. We even have our own tipping comp on the go.’’

The month-long viewing session earns him a few strange looks at work, but Mr Iannucci said the majority of the world watched soccer.

‘‘Probably about 80 per cent of the world follows it, and something like .03 per cent of the world follow AFL. I love footy, too, but for me (soccer’s) a passion... I just love the game.’’

Mr Iannucci has been a longtime Italy fan for more than 30 years, but this year his allegiance is shifting towards Australia.

‘‘I was probably 10 years old when I first started, it was 1982 and I remember watching the knockout stages (of the World Cup) where (Italian player Paolo Rossi scored three goals against Brazil and I fell in love with it, ’’ he said.

‘‘I started playing the next year and I’ve been glued to the telly for every World Cup since.

‘‘(My son) started watching the last one, he was eight and I don’t think he lasted to kick-off in the first game, he fell asleep.’’

It’s clear the love of the game has been passed down to the next generation.

Mr Iannucci’s son Gianluca, 12, plays for the Victorian under-13 team and said he was excited to experience the biggest soccer tournament in the world.

‘‘All the best players in the world will be playing, all the best teams, ’’ Gianluca said.

‘‘I’ll be trying to watch most of the games that I can, but don’t think I’ll be falling asleep this time. I’ll watch the early games, go back to sleep and then go to school.’’

With many World Cup moments to relive, Mr Iannucci rates the 1986 World Cup final between Argentina and West Germany as the best. He tipped England to be this year’s dark horse.

‘‘People are going to call me an absolute idiot, but for some reason England keeps popping into my mind. They’re an unknown, they’ve flown under the radar for quite a while, but I think they’ll go well, ’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t think we (Australia) will get out of the group, but I don’t think we’ll embarrass ourselves.

‘‘We’re up against the two finalist from 2010 — Spain will be very strong and Chile is a bit of an up-and-comer in South America.’

‘‘I think a lot have written Australia off, they’ve been through a bit of turmoil, dropped a lot of players, but Postecoglou has turned the game around in Australia.’’

Mr Iannucci has never been to a World Cup himself, and doesn’t anticipate doing so in the next eight years.

‘‘In 1994 I was in Canada with family, and I was seriously thinking I might drop into the States (for the World Cup).

‘‘I was really hoping in 2010 that we would get the World Cup.

‘‘And I don’t have any cousins in Russia, and don’t know anybody in Qatar, so they’re looking unlikely.’’

Vince’s group stage tips:

Group A — Croatia, Brazil.

Group B — Spain, Chile.

Group C — Japan, ‘‘throw at a dartboard for the other three’’ (Colombia, Cote D’Ivoire, Greece).

Group D — Italy, England.

Group E — Switzerland, France.

Group F — Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Group G — Germany, Portugal.

Group H — Belguim, Russia.

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