We arrived at our hostel in the Brazilian metropolis that is São Paulo around 1400 on Sunday. The population of the City is 12.18 million, the state itself of São Paulo 33 million, and boy oh boy do you realise it when you’re on your way to the centre from the airport. It’s massive and reminded me of the opening to Bladerunner, only with more sunshine and nicer people.

We stayed in the hilly suburb of Vila Madalena which, as it turned out, was one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed in my life. And I’ve stayed in Crewe. Sunday was spent trying to arrange meetings, sort through all the videos and photos we’d taken so far and get some podcasts scheduled for release. Some cracking food and a couple of beers were had in the fantastically named Poke Burger.

Monday saw us take a trip to the Allianz Parque in Pompeia Village, near the neighbourhoods of Perdizes and Barra Funda, in the west zone of São Paulo city. The Stadium is home to the huge Palmeiras club and is located on the spot where their previous stadium the Palestra Itália was located before being knocked down and rebuilt in time for the World Cup 2014. Palmeiras has seen some fairly outrageous players through its doors including Rivaldo, Edmundo, Dudu, Roberto Carlos, as well as two players who were made a mark at St James’, Mirandinha and Tino Asprilla.

We were given a proper tour of the stadium by Bianca and Vitor, Palmeiras fans whose knowledge of the stadium and the club was bang on. Enthusiastic and buzzing to be working for their club. We were with quite a few others, most genuine Palmeiras fans, who were enjoying themselves no end. One of the lads was there in his full tracksuit and couldn’t stop chatting away to everyone. His wife couldn’t have been happier for him….

We returned to the hostel during the evening and got ourselves set for Tuesday which, should everything go as planned, would mean an interview with Mirandinha himself who’d agreed to meet with us in a shopping centre in a town called Mogi Guaçu, 3.5 hours by taxi and bus from where we were staying.

An early start on the Tuesday saw is pass through some stunning countryside on the route to Mogi where we arrived at 1200. This place felt properly off the beaten track, to the extent that a woman who served us a beer didn’t know where England was. Someone selling you cold beer for less than a quid a pop and not having any idea where you come from is my kind of town.

Mirandinha turned up and he couldn’t have been any more sound. He spoke with us for an hour about his days at Newcastle, his enjoyment of his time there, love for the people he met, and the regrets that he has when he looks back at how things have turned out or how they could’ve been.

Our final full day, Wednesday, proved to be one of the most hectic of many hectic days had throughout the trip. Early doors saw us record a podcast and video with João, a Palmeiras fan and a lad whose opinions on his club and Brazilian football echoed those of many people I know following the Premier League and NUFC. He’s suffering from the same disillusionment as I am on how the game is financed, how new stadiums are devoid of emotion and how TV is ensuring the on-going sanitisation of the match day experience. He’s feeling conflicted about his club which is something a fair few of others can relate to.

João’s disillusionment was a complete contrast with the lad we spoke with at our next meeting. We jumped in a taxi and headed 14 odd kilometres across the city to speak with Klayton Oliveira, a Corinthians fanatic who, despite his team having crippling debts, having court cases hanging over it and struggling at present despite its illustrious history, could not have been more enthusiastic about the game and his love for his club.

Our final meeting of the day, and indeed of the trip, was with Murilo who is a documentary maker, producer, writer, journalist and quite simply a very talented, engaging and intelligent human being. He met us at the superb classic football shirts shop Atrox Casual Club located in a shopping gallery not too far off the Avenida Paulista. We spoke at length about a  documentary he’s done on the Chilean team Club Palestino as well as work he’s done on homophobia in Brazilian football and why he has such a superb collection of NUFC tops. The work that he does at both Vice and Peleja is so interesting, thought-provoking and important that he could single-handedly demolish the argument that ‘football and politics’ should be kept apart.

We also got to speak a little with the owner of Atrox (translation from Latin = Savage), a man named Renato who not only runs a superb shop but also used to promote UK punk and hardcore bands in Brazil. He was yet another person we’ve met on this trip who’s autobiography I’d go out and buy.

We headed back to the hostel via a few pubs. Amazingly we’d not had one night out since arriving in South America. By one night out I mean staying out beyond midnight and getting drunk. This we did on our final night by way of celebration, celebrating the magnificent people we’d encountered, people who throughout the trip could not have been warmer and more welcoming than they were. People who gave their time to us for nothing other than a love of football and a desire to communicate with people from different backgrounds. I’ll remain forever grateful to every single one of them.

We ended up in the São Cristavão which would be my local if it wasn’t 5898 miles from London. The last caipirinha was so strong I’ve no recollection of returning to the hostel. The flight back the next day was hard work, as was the 2.5 hour delay in Porto. It didn’t matter as nothing could’ve spoiled this trip. It has been spectacular.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the diaries. I’ll be writing a proper journal covering all aspects of the 2 weeks we’ve been away and this’ll contain anecdotes, what we learnt and how we managed to get the meetings with the people we did. We’re also going to try and put the documentary together which will hopefully be a visual feast for the eyes. For now though, a huge thanks to our Patreons and fanzine-buyers for providing us with the financial support to enable us to do things like this. Thank you for reading. Todo tranquilo, compa.

Norman Riley.