I was fortunate enough to be in Croatia, in the town of Split for the 2018 World Cup final where Croatia had broken all their records to qualify to play France. Originally I would have missed the game as I was heading home Sunday evening. When the news broke that Croatia had qualified, I changed my flights and booked an extra night in a hotel to see the game.
The atmosphere was incredible, cheerful, enthusiastic and supportive. All the shops had closed down for the game, hours earlier shop workers were putting the flags on each others faces and wearing the kit. Everywhere was packed. I managed to find an outdoor bar where there was enough room to see the TV in the distance and a reasonable line for the beer.
Despite losing, some might say unfairly, to France, the fans remained positive. For the rest of the night they partied through the city, with flags and fireworks celebrating their historic achievement. For a country of only four million people, to have reached the final was incredible.
It was an experience well worth sticking around for!