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Ben Oude Kamphuis
Ben Oude Kamphuis

Trans-Canada Highway

Dutch superfan drives 21,000 km to watch World Cup Add to ...

Soccer fans are legendary for how far they will go to support their team during the World Cup – but one hardcore Dutch supporter has taken it to a whole new level.

Ben Oude Kamphuis, 52, drove his 1955 Chevrolet 235 pickup truck – nicknamed “Nellie” – 21,000 kilometres from San Francisco to Salvador, Brazil, just to see Netherlands play Spain on Friday, according to Sports Illustrated.

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“The whole experience has been mind-blowing,” Oude Kamphuis told SI’s Grant Wahl via Skype. “It all started four years ago when the Dutch lost in the [World Cup] final to Spain. That was the third time I cried, the third time we lost in the final. I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m driving Old Nellie down to Brazil.”

Oude Kamphuis’ journey started on Jan. 15 and took him and Nellie through a dozen countries. In towns along the way, Oude Kamphuis, who works with disabled children, has delivered donated soccer shoes and speeches in schools about the power of soccer to fight racism. Nellie is covered in signatures from hundreds of people who have signed their names.

“Everyone drives next to Nellie and they wave, Stop! Stop! Stop!” the 6-foot-7 superfan told SI. “I’m like, ‘No, man, I can’t stop, or I’ll never get to Brazil!’ It’s been a football experience but with the message of, ‘Hey, we’re all the same people, you know, we’re all in this planet together.’ Hopefully through football we can make the world a better place.”

But how did Nellie hold up?

“There’s no suspension on that thing. It’s just a solid block of metal,” he told Wahl. “In Mexico I’d say, ‘Amigo, how far from Mazatlán to Puerto Vallarta?’ And they’d say, ‘No worries, amigo, it’s direct, like eight hours.’ And it takes me three frickin’ days to get there. It’s been like that all along. I thought I’d be in Brazil way earlier. But with the mountains and some of the gravel roads I travel, I can barely go 10 miles an hour, because it shakes.”

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