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Football fans set for Euro trip to visit Costa Rican stars

Ninety days. Thirteen players. One continent.

This is the formula that a trio of 25-year-old sports fanatics are following in pursuit of Costa Rican football bliss. The three friends from San José – Gonzalo de la Rocha, Andrés Pérez, and Mariel González – plan to spend three months watching and meeting some of the country’s best professional football exports as they play for their respective clubs in Europe. And they plan to share it all with the world via social media.

Organized under the name “El Ridesote,” the voyage is slated to begin Sept. 28 when the fans fly to England to see star defender Bryan Oviedo play in Everton. They’ll also see national team stars Joel Campbell at Arsenal and Cristian Gamboa at West Bromwich Albion before leaving the British Isles and and hopping to six other countries, including Ukraine at the continent’s edge.

Pérez, who recently graduated with a degree in business administration along with his two travel companions, said the epic trip is more than a year in the making.

“The idea was born after the World Cup in Brazil when the team had so much success and we saw a lot of the players signing to big clubs,” Pérez said.

Following last year’s quarterfinals finish in the World Cup, goalkeeper Keylor Navas was signed to Spanish power Real Madrid and defender Giancarlo González moved up to Italian Serie A’s Palermo, among other notable signings.

Now, depending on schedules and any last-minute player transfers, the El Ridesote team plans to watch Navas, González, and the rest of Costa Rica’s stars in their teams’ matches and then take time afterwards to meet and talk with each player about life in their second homes. The three will document their journey, as well as the players’ stories, through video and their social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

“We’re going to do fan-perspective talks, not really journalistic interviews,” Pérez said. “How the players adjust to their clubs and different cultures, difficulties with the language – that’s the kind of stuff that we want to document.”

Pérez said the Ridesote project was partially inspired by the “Subite al Chunche” group that traveled from Costa Rica to Brazil by car (after getting their Toyota Land Cruiser shipped to Colombia beyond the impassable Darién Gap). The travelers are hoping to have sponsors cover some of the costs for the 90-day voyage, and Pérez said they already have two agreements from domestic companies, but also hope to get bigger deals from other businesses like Scotiabank, Florida Ice & Farm Company, and Bridgestone.

For three young Costa Ricans, the football-fueled trip is a once-in-a-lifetime voyage that honors their country’s unmitigated love for the beautiful game.

“Passion moves us and here in Costa Rica the passion is football.”

Aside from the players mentioned, the Ridesote team also plans to see:

  • Óscar Duarte (Club Brugge, Belgium)
  • John Jairo Ruíz (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine)
  • Yeltsin Tejeda (Evian, France)
  • Shirley Cruz (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
  • Bryan Ruíz (Sporting Club Portugal, Portugal)
  • Celso Borges (Deportivo de La Coruña, Spain)
  • Jonathan Moya (SD Huesca, Spain)
  • Júnior Díaz (SV Darmstadt 98, Germany)

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