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Patrick Johnston: The Odyssey of a Soccer Junkie


For several decades, the World Cup soccer games were hosted alternately by countries in South America and Europe. So it’s perhaps appropriate that the closing games of this year’s contest are between two giants from South America and Northern Europe. The question of whether the final game will pit South America against Northern Europe will be answered this afternoon when Argentina faces the Netherlands in the second of the two semi final games. But regardless of the outcome, odds are Patrick Johnston will be there. The soccer coach from Sewanee has attended World Cup soccer games in every series since the mid-1980’s.  In this interview, Johnston talks about his incredible dedication to the sport.

Johnston published a book about his experiences, The Odyssey of a Soccer Junkie.

From the Amazon.com description:

Want to make a trip to the World Cup? Then go to all of them with a passionate and plucky traveler. His go for broke style results in some unconventional dilemmas where a quick wit is the key to salvation. In foreign lands he embeds himself in the trenches of the black ticket market and sleeps in million dollar flats one night while the ensuing or previous one has sentenced him to a park bench. Other than the next game, there's no telling what will happen! Mexico 1986- a young American plunges into a fanatical nation gripped by hysteria. The world’s most popular sporting event, the World Cup, has taken over. From that journey is spawned the insatiable desire to travel the globe to watch the beautiful game. Intent on defying the odds; no tickets, no accommodations, and very little money sets the stage to abandon convention and creatively prevail in his single-minded purpose of attending the match of the day. Spontaneous trips to Rome, Korea, South Africa (amongst others) became the norm for this soccer junkie. Many tickets considered impossible to attain are acquired, sometimes even putting our hero on the field. Nearly a hundred matches in total: from Maradona’s “Hand of God” to the 2010 thriller between the US and Algeria, he’s seen them all. Evolving from a startling innocence into a pragmatic adventurer, our hero promises to entertain you with facts, feats, and levity while displaying adventurous escapism at its finest. "Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost

Richard Winham joined WUTC five years after the station began broadcasting to the Chattanooga area and the Tennessee Valley.