Two Panama fans have shown their gratitude to the Russian people by making a banner thanking them ‘from their hearts’ - and also declaring their love of khachapuri, a popular delicacy in the country.
Friends David and Luis took their makeshift banner to Panama’s match with England at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The sign reads: “Thank you Russia, from our hearts - Panama”, and is completed with the hashtag “I love khachapuri”.
Talking about the traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread, David said: “I love khachapuri and so far as long as I have been in Russia, they have been amazing, amazing!”
However, the pair explained that the thank you wasn’t just for the food, but for the warm welcome from the Russian people.
“It’s a thank you to Russia, to everyone I have met so far in Russia who has been so warm,” David explained. “It’s been so special our visit to Russia, seriously. We’ve loved every single minute since we’ve been here.”
The two were attending their second game in Russia, having attended Panama’s opener versus Belgium in Sochi, a 3-0 defeat for ‘The Canal Men’.
“We went to both games. Sochi and Nizhny Novgorod. And we went to Moscow too and everyone has been so nice to us, we really had to make this banner,” Luis said.
The pair would not make the final game against Tunisia in Mordovia Arena, Saransk on Thursday, having to fly back home and return to work, something they seemed in buoyant mood.
“We have to go home. It’s a bit of a long flight. I’ve got to go back to work, man, I’m on vacation right now. But I’m very happy with my experience, I don't mind. What I’ve lived here, will be something I will remember for the rest of my life,” Luis admitted.
Despite the pair admitting that "nobody likes leaving the World Cup", they were content with having seen Panama make history by playing in their first World Cup game and the scoring the nation’s first ever goal.
“We’ll be able to tell this story to our kids, our grandkids you name it. This will go down in history,” the delighted duo said.
Despite going down 6-1 to an England side inspired by captain Harry Kane, who scored a hattrick in the game to bring his World Cup tally to five goals in two games, David and Luis expressed optimism that one day Panama
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“There is gonna be a time when we come head to head with England, and they are gonna have a hard time and we’re gonna beat them. Just like we did with the US. Ten, twelve, fifteen years ago we had a rough time with the US and now, where are they?” David said.
After defying the odds to qualify for the tournament altogether, who would put it past them to do it all over again.