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Russian World Cup fairy tale ignites belief among future generations

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia: Like any football-mad kid, Maksim has been struck by major World Cup fever: He’s watched all the games, has supported – and been disappointed by – his favourite team Spain, and cheered at the sight of idols Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi gracing the grass right here in his home country of Russia.

Yet something has also changed for the seven-year-old boy from the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. He might wear his Real Madrid and Barcelona jerseys less, and ask his dad to buy him a CSKA Moscow one with “Golovin” on the back. And if once he didn’t think much of his own national side, today he feels nothing but “big, huge” pride for them.

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