Tuesday 05 March 2019, 15:25

The queen of the comeback team

  • Adriana Lisboa is a symbol of the Vascaínos

  • She didn’t miss a Vasco match in over a year

  • Why did she give up Universal Studios tickets?

"Taking a selfie with Adriana Lisboa is to Vascaínos like taking a selfie with Justin Bieber is to North American teenagers," said a Vasco da Gama fan. And the beloved 32-year-old isn’t even safe outside Brazilian borders – as she discovered upon landing in the USA on Saturday.

“I hadn’t missed a Vasco game – home or away – in over a year,” explained Adriana, who had, during that 80-match marathon, been all over the vastest country in the southern hemisphere, as well as to Argentina and Chile, to FIFA.com. “Last month I had to get four flights to see a Copa do Brasil game in Juazeiro on a Wednesday night. I left home at 10am, and got to the stadium just before kick-off at 9:30pm, and got home at 10am the following day, in the same clothes and without having slept.

“I really didn’t want to miss a game but I knew, sadly, I’d have to in order to visit Florida and Universal Studios, which I’d dreamt about since I was a little girl. My partner Janilton and son Gabriel are both huge Vasco fans, so we scheduled it so we wouldn’t miss the derbies against Botafogo and Flamengo.

"After we landed at 11am, we were going to go to the hotel, dump our suitcases, and head straight to Universal. But 52 FJV – a Vasco supporters’ club in Florida – heard I was in the state and organised a big party to welcome me and watch Vasco play Boavista. So, crazily, we discarded hundreds of dollars’ worth of tickets we’d bought and, with no time to go to the hotel, immediately spent three hours on the road to Deerfield Beach!

“They’d gone to a lot of trouble. It was amazing. The sadness I felt at missing a Vasco game was replaced with joy, because I was surrounded by people to whom, like me, Vasco is life.

"We’ve been to the theme parks since, but that day with the Vascaínos was without doubt our most amazing in Florida.”

Adriana’s transformation into Vasco’s poster girl happened overnight.

“In 2015, nobody had a clue who I was,” she explained. “I didn’t have Instagram. I had 100 followers on Facebook. But then I put a video on social media about Vasco and it had a snowball effect.

“People like the way I support Vasco. I speak, I sing, I cry, I chant. I receive a lot of affection from the Vascaínos wherever I go. There’s always innumerable people wanting to take a photo with me. Now it’s reached a point where, even if I have something on, I can’t say I’m not going to an away game, because people dream about meeting me, taking a selfie with me.

“I feel so fortunate. I’m also fortunate to have such an understanding man who lets me travel all over to follow my beloved Vasco.”

Adriana met Janilton through… well, what else?

“We used to go to games together around 15 years ago, but we lost contact,” said Adriana. “About six years ago we saw each other at a game, and we’ve been together ever since."

The home they share in Rio de Janeiro is a shrine to the maiden FIFA Club World Cup runners-up. Her son, eight-year-old Gabriel, was a mascot who walked out to a match hand-in-hand with former Barcelona forward Maxi Lopez.

Adriana has Vasco tattoos. She’s friends with several former and current Vasco players. And she recently launched a Youtube channel about 'The Comeback Team'.

“Vasco da Gama is a way of life for me, and it always has been,” she said. “It’s a tradition in my family to be a Vascaíno. My mother, when she was 15, spent hours and hours on a bus just to get to games. Since I was really little, my uncles, aunts, cousins took me to Vasco games.

“My biggest idol was Edmundo. I loved Felipe, Juninho Pernambucano, Pedrinho too. My best memory is of 1997, when Vasco became Brazilian champions. I was at the final. 90,000 inside the Maracana. Unbelievable! One of the best days of my life.

“Carlos Germano kept repelling attack after attack from Palmeiras. When the final whistle went, I fainted due to the emotion!”

Adriana has tickets to return to the same stadium on Saturday. And though she gave up ones to go on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and The Incredible Hulk last weekend, sacrificing a ride on the roller coaster of a Clássico against Flamengo is something this superfan wouldn’t do for all the money in the world.