Matías Foti is travelling nearly 7000 miles from Argentina to London to watch his beloved Bolton Wanderers for the first time.
Buenos Aires-based Foti’s dream of seeing the Trotters will come true at Wembley for the Papa John’s Trophy final.
The 25-year-old fell in love with the Whites after playing as them on the video game FIFA eight years ago and has planned to visit the UK to watch them live ever since.
He said: “I have been dreaming of this trip since eight years ago.
“After many changes in the middle of booking flights and the hotels, we have got lucky that Bolton progressed in the Papa Johns, and now we have a Wembley final.
“I really can’t believe it. When I go to bed, I think I will be watching a game at Wembley.
Bolton beat Accrington Stanley 2-0 in the semi-final thanks to goals from Elias Kachunga and Aaron Morley to reach Wembley for the first time since 2011.
They will face Plymouth Argyle in the final and hope to win their second EFL Trophy after their 1989 victory over Torquay United in the then-named Associate Members’ Cup.
Foti will travel to London on March 30 and then visit Bolton to meet some of the supporters he has interacted with via his Twitter account, Bolton Latinoamerica, before returning to the capital for the final.
Streaming service Ifollow allows Foti to watch every Bolton game from South America and follows his routine of wearing his favourite Whites shirt and hanging up his flag on the wall above where he sits to watch the game.
The creation of Bolton Latinoamerica alongside friend Nicolás Alvarez has allowed him to connect with fellow Wanderers on social media, who made him feel like part of their family.
He said: “We are grateful to the Bolton fans, the Bolton family because we’ve felt their love for us.”
They are now an official affiliate supporters trust and have over 40 members across Latin America from Columbia to Honduras.
Foti’s favourite Wanderers player of recent times is Gary Madine, but he also acknowledges Nat Lofthouse as the club’s all-time great and his knowledge of English football shines through.
He has a passion for lower leagues and is captivated by the EFL’s fan culture, which he says as a River Plate supporter his country cannot replicate.
He said: “I love English football but not the Premier League.
“It’s beautiful because football was born in England, and it’s phenomenal that many fans follow the lower league teams like Notts County and Stockport, who get 10,000 fans at the stadium. It’s not normal.
“Here in the Argentina fourth division, they maybe get 100 people.
“I love the tradition in England where the transition from the grandfather taking father, then the father to the son and many people decide to support their local team.”
Bolton FM commentator Harlan Dane Fallon is intrigued by Foti’s love for the Whites.
Fallon hopes the Argentinians can bring the infamous Latin American spirit to the Bolton end at the national stadium.
He said: “They’re clearly really passionate.
“What they do is they just roar, and they love Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
“It shows you don’t have to be from Bolton, and it’s not about where you’re from. It’s about how much you invest in the football club as a fan and how much love you’ve got for that football club.
“There are people who’ve maybe supported the team for 40/50 years that don’t show half as much passion as these lads do.”