Patrick Johnston had no plans to go to the World Cup – well, not as a spectator, at least.
“For me, it was just fortune,” he says. “It wasn't something I pre-planned, it wasn't something that I came in knowing this is something I was going to do.”
After all, he thought he was more likely to play in it, then buy a ticket to watch other players perform. He’d been a star at a big-name college in North Carolina and was ready to go seek his fame and fortune playing overseas, to get ready to play in the 1990 or 1994 World Cups.
But he ended up at the World Cup in Mexico in 1986 -- and every one since.
He even wrote a memoir about his travels that has become something of a “how-to” on the subject, called "The Odyssey of a Soccer Junkie."
“One of my 10 laws of travel is audacity has its rewards. But it's definitely harder now -- much harder,” says Johnston. “But if you want to make it happen, you can go out and make it happen.”
When he started going in Mexico, he was the only American there.
As the years wore on, Americans began to show up and he used the tricks he learned for getting tickets to help others see games, including a nice couple from California who had gotten tickets for their sons to see a key US game in Germany in 2006. His story of helping them became big enough that their local newspaper, back in California, wrote a story about the couple meeting Johnston.
They were a few blocks from the arena, about to head off to a beer garden to watch the game when a fellow American asked if they needed tickets to the game that was just about to start. They nodded and were expecting him to name a princely price when he said they could have the tickets at face value. Just send him the money in Florida, when it was convenient.
From that simple gesture, Johnston made lifelong friends.
See his complete story – and pictures from this travels – in this edition of the Buckley Report.