Peru’s most devoted fan to take his faith to FIFA World Cup

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Lima, May 30 (IANS) Peru will put an end to a 36-year spell of bad luck during which the country’s national football team has not played in a World Cup tournament; a long wait that never made supporter David Chauca lose hope.

Chauca, also known as “the Israelite,” is considered to be Peru’s most devoted fan, as he has rarely missed one of the national team’s training sessions, going so far as to climb on the roof of an adjacent house to watch the players practice, reported Efe.

The Israelite is unmistakable, as his long hair, beard and long red-and-white tunic make him look like a Biblical figure.

Team coach Ricardo Gareca has allowed Chauca to attend most training sessions, even when they are closed to the public.

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He only misses training sessions that take place on Saturday, which is the compulsory day of rest according to his church, the Evangelical Association of the Israelite Mission of the New Universal Pact, founded in Peru in 1955.

“The Bible says that if you follow the commandments, God will grant what you ask for. Knowing this, I made sure to follow them and to ask that the team qualify for the World Cup. This was achieved because of the players’ efforts and because of the spiritual part,” Chauca told EFE.

During this final phase of preparation in the capital, the Israelite has been getting up at 4 a.m. to make the nearly two-hour journey from his home in the outskirts of Lima to the financial district of San Isidro, where the national team’s hotel is located.

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Once there, Chauca waits for the players to board a bus taking them to the training grounds and then follows them in a taxi.

“Everybody knows me. People ask if they can take photos with me. One taxi driver even took me for free,” he said.

The 42-year-old father of two will travel to Russia with the help of the mayor of the district of San Juan de Miraflores, Javier Altamirano, who gave him a plane ticket as well as a ticket to attend Peru’s debut match against Denmark on June 16.

“It will be a blessing to be there,” Chauca said.

–IANS

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