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MY DATE WITH ENGLAND.

Byline: Chris Henwood

BIRMINGHAM schoolboy Mitchell Nemeth was the envy of all his classmates today as he prepared to cheer on England live from South Africa.

The 13-year-old's dedication to the cause, having travelled to places like Kazakhstan and Ukraine to watch England qualify, mean he's guaranteed seats all the way to the final if Rooney and co can perform on the biggest stage of all.

Mitchell, who goes to Smith's Wood Sports College, is in South Africa with his dad, Barry, a personnel manager for a firm in Birmingham.

"Mitchell's been telling everyone, but they've not believed him - even his teachers thought he was telling porkies," said Barry, who turns 40 two days after England's game against Algeria on June 18.

But unluckily for Barry's other son, 20-year-old Luke, a performing arts student at Birmingham Metropolitan College, exams meant he couldn't get away to see England - unless they make it to the semi-finals. "He's devastated to not be here, but that's just the way it is," said Barry, of Trajan Hill, Coleshill.

The pair got their dream tickets by going to see England - home and away - in the qualifying stage. Their efforts won 'caps' that moved them up an official FA league for England supporters.

And the nearer the top, the greater the chance of getting World Cup tickets.

"We didn't have enough caps for the last World Cup so we were determined to make it this time," said Barry.

"I knew we'd be going to South Africa and I've watched us climb the board over the last few years as we've been to watch England. We were at around the 20,000 mark, but rose all the way up to 1,500 after going to places like Kazakhstan and Ukraine. I've never been to a World Cup before and I think we can win - Rooney and Milner are key players."

Mitchell's head teacher at Smith's Wood, Rob Hawkins, said: "It really is a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity for Mitchell and any head teacher would have to have a heart of stone to say he couldn't go.

"And he'll be experiencing a lot more than just a sports competition - although we are a sports college, so that does count for something to us.

"In fact I'd love to be able to send busloads of my pupils there to experience the different cultures and lifestyles that Mitchell will be able to come back and tell his friends and teachers about."

CAPTION(S):

Holiday of a lifetime: Barry and Mitchell before they jetted off for tonight's big game in South Africa.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 12, 2010
Words:429
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