During the World Cup, as well as focusing on the stories of our players representing their countries, we are also shining a light on those Gooners around the globe cheering on their nations.
Here, Rakish, a professional footballer raised in east London, discusses what supporting England means to him
As a footballer myself, it would be nice to see the country win in a major tournament. I think it’d be good as nation for us to win something as big as this; the women won a major tournament, so for the men to do it too would lift the country.
Seeing youth be given a chance and take their opportunities is inspiring. Seeing Bukayo Saka step up on the international scene and do as well as he’s doing, especially after the setback that he received last Euros - if that doesn’t motivate or inspire you, I don’t know what will.
The World Cup brings everyone together. I remember the one in 2002 - I was at school and the lessons were cancelled! We just sat in the assembly hall watching the England-Brazil game. And I just remember the heartbreak. I saw kids crying, and remember thinking: "this is a big loss". At that age, I never really understood how much it affected people in the country, even people that didn’t even watch football.
My mum’s a big football fan, as are all my brothers, my nephews. Football’s a big part of us. We watch games every weekend over our Sunday dinner, it’s a big part of our family. Three of us are Arsenal fans, one of my brothers is a Tottenham fan, and another supports Liverpool, so there's a nice little rivalry in the house - but I’m on top at the minute!
The whole reason why I wanted to be a professional footballer was solely because of Arsenal. I spent my early days watching Wright, Adams, Bergkamp, so they’re the reason I wanted to do this. Growing up, I played cage football from 8am to 8pm, morning til night. It kept me off of the streets, doing the wrong stuff. So football is everything to me.
Kids from outside wanted to play here as well, because there was so much talent in east London that didn’t get a chance to get as far as maybe I’ve gone, but I’m living proof that from an area that shows it’s difficult to make it out, that it’s possible.
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