Alex Waters, aged 25, is from the Black Country. He insists that he's a "Yam-Yam" and is mightily offended when people say he's from Birmingham. A religious West-Brom supporter, this is Waters' second World Cup tour, after visiting South Africa in 2010.
How is it going for him in Russia?
Well, his feet are shredded and blistered, from endless traipsing around the city. His skin has erupted with bites from cheap hotels and overnight trains. He is covered in blue polka dots, from the bright blue Russian "iodine" that has been applied to his bites.
Despite all this, Alex says that the World Cup has been an incredible experience. He has learned a slew of Russian words, helping him integrate into Russian society and dive into the spirit of the country. His vocabulary is not wide, but it is valuable and straight to the point. "Otlichno" (very good), "drug" (friend) and "udacha" (good luck) help Alex make Russian friends. While "spasibo" (thanks), "vodka" (vodka) and "piva" (beer) help him order at the bar.
While immersing himself in Russian culture, Waters has sunk headfirst into the tournament. In his red football shirt, with a St. George's flag around his shoulders, he's at the forefront of all the chants — the symbolic leader of the English fans. But Waters' most frequent chant has nothing whatsoever to do with England. Pacing the streets of Nizhny Novgorod, he cheers "Spasiba Ros-si-ya!" — a triumphant "thank you" to the host nation. His second favorite chant plays out as follows:
"Wo-aoah, England fans in Russia, wo-aoah, drinking all your vodka, wo-aoah, England's going all the way!"
Sure enough, Alex Waters backs England with his heart and soul. Nevertheless, he thinks the route to the finals will not come without a challenge. Waters thinks Colombia is the number one team to beat on their way to the semifinals.
"Colombia is a difficult match. But after that, we would play either Sweden or Switzerland, whereas Brazil will face either Belgium or Japan. So, in the long run, Belgium has it tougher, but Belgium has the easier Round of 16 match. In the long run, if we could beat Colombia — I think that we could go far."
On the subject of the England vs. Belgium game, Waters believes the result to have been a "tactical loss by Gareth Southgate." While that might be true, it is believed that Belgium was also "tactically" trying to lose. The horrified expression on the Belgian manager's face at the time of the goal helped cement the theory.
If England were to meet Belgium once again in the tournament, Waters thinks it would be a whole different story. That story would involve all the main football protagonists, and England's lack of yellow cards could shift the power somewhat, and put the win in England's grasp.
"When we played against Belgium, there was no Lukaku, there was no Kevin De Bruyne, and there was no Eden Hazard. On the England side, there was no Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Raheem Sterling. On top of this, England has not had many bookings, whereas Belgium has had a lot of bookings. It could be Belgium A against England A in the final, whereas in Kaliningrad, it was Belgium B against England B."
As Waters is keen to stress, there's no future in this tournament for England if they can't get past Colombia. England's World Cup dreams lay in wait, to be played out in Spartak Stadium on Tuesday evening. Alex Waters, flag in a pocket, waits patiently (but not quietly) to see the result. For Alex, bites and blisters aside, this tournament has been an eventful and animated lens into Russian life.