with Alvin Sallay
Stuttgart: A lucky roll of the dice won England fan Mark Turnbull a prized ticket to the second-round game against Ecuador - and to top it all off, he was seated behind Posh Spice, also known as Victoria Beckham.
'I couldn't believe it when I found that my seat was right behind Posh. I have never been so close to her. It was just fabulous, she was with two of her sons,' said Turnbull whom I bumped into after the game in a bar owned by a footballer named Ardi.
You hear all sorts of stories, ranging from the downright bizarre to simply unbelievable, in the bars of Germany. Turnbull's tale was one of a normal punter who got lucky by just being in the right place at the right time, the sort of thing that happens to you and me. Well, I hope so.
'I was having a drink in this bar the other night and I began talking with a chap who, once he knew I was English, asked me if I had a ticket to the game. I said no. He then asked me if I would like one. 'Of course', I replied, and then asked him how much would it cost. I thought he was a tout,' related Turnbull.
'But to my surprise, he said it was free, and he gave me this ticket. I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought it was a fake, but it was the genuine thing,' added Turnbull. 'This guy was a German and a lawyer, one of the best lawyers I have met.'
Turnbull had come to Germany with pal Michael Duffy. They both come from Sunderland. Turnbull, who has represented Great Britain in ice hockey - he plays for Durham as a goaltender - offered the ticket to his pal. 'I had seen a couple of the England games already, having bought tickets from touts for up to 300 euros. Mike hadn't seen one yet so I told him to take it,' said Turnbull.
Duffy continues the story: 'He got it because he is charming. He can charm the girls as well as the men. So it was only fair that we let luck decide for us. We rolled a dice and whoever got the highest number would win. He got a six, the lucky b*****. And the icing was to sit behind Posh.'
So I asked him what did Posh do when hubby David conjured up the magical moment to secure England a quarter-final showdown with Portugal. Turnbull smiles: 'She turned and hugged me. No, I was kidding. She hugged her kids.' The reason for this tale, says Turnbull and Duffy, is that it has opened their eyes to how hospitable German people are. For both of them, they are in their late 20s early 30s, this is their first visit to Germany.
'We have never been to Germany before and we all have this cliched perception of Germans. But now I know what the people here are like. They have been very friendly and just fantastic. And I'm not saying this because I got a free ticket. This is the feeling I have found during my stay,' says Turnbull.
Duffy agrees: 'When I go back home, I'm going to spread the word about the German people. We have lived too long with memories about the war and so on. It is time people back home started thinking differently. This trip has opened my eyes. I will definitely be coming back here for a holiday.'
The motto for Germany 2006 is 'A time to make friends'. Well I can vouch that this did materialise in Stuttgart, the other night.
Number of the Day: 7.80. The cost in euros for a gin and tonic in the bars of Germany. This translates to about $78. And you thought Lan Kwai Fong was expensive.