The Qantas Socceroos' No.1 fan?

Pablo Bateson has been to every one of the Qantas Socceroos past 14 games, no matter where they've been played - and this weekend, he'll be doing it again in Oman.

Pablo Bateson has been to every one of the Qantas Socceroos past 14 games, no matter where they've been played - and this weekend, he'll be doing it again in Oman.

Is he committed or does he need committing? Pablo (above centre, sitting down)is just one of those fans who loves his football team and loves to travel, so why not combine to two? caught up with Pablo before he flew out to watch the Qantas Socceroos take on Oman in a World Cup qualifier to find out why he does it.

How many Socceroos games have you been to? I went to all 14 of the qualifiers in the campaign for South Africa, home and away, over both group stages. And as far as we know I was the only one to achieve that. There were a few that got up to 12 or 13; we have a bit of a running joke about our tallies, not that I obsess about it, but it was good to be part of all 14. I'm just following my passion and unconditional support for the Socceroos.

Without wanting to get too personal - -how do you afford it? Ha, it has come up before. Some people spend their money on clubbing or fast cars or expensive music systems; I put my dollars into my No.1 passion, which is football and the Socceroos. I have an unofficial Socceroos fund and do have to be creative.

During the 2008/09 qualification campaign I did some freelance as a consultant, which gave me some flexibility. I guess I just trust in the process and don-t worry too much about the bills. Life goes on with the rent and so on, but I just trusted it would work out!

By the time the South Africa finals finished my credit card was run up nicely but I really loved that campaign so I thought I-ll do it again and I-m looking even more forward to brazil.

What's been your best memory from travelling to watch Australia play? Some people say you can-t nail an absolute special that stands out but for me it was the Tashkent away game in September 2008. That was the most special Socceroos travel experience I-ve ever had.

The fact that hardly any Australians had been to Uzbekistan, the challenge, because I co-led an independent group of over 40 fellow fans, the invitations, the visas, the security at the hotel. But the hospitality we experienced and it was culturally so different, we felt really comfortable as soon as we got there.

On match day it all just fell into place. We had the fountain bar in one of the main parks there and they put Aussie music on. Then we had a coach to get to the game, and got a police escort to the ground with priority over all the traffic lights, and people were lining the streets and waving. It was just amazing.

We entered our bay with an hour to go and the stadium was already fully packed, 35,000 plus, and the roar and the reaction as we walked in - as I talk about it now, the emotion and the hairs go up on the back of your neck just thinking about it. A lot of them were cheering, just the reaction...

The Aussie players were doing their warm-up and they picked up on this and they turned round and acknowledged us as well, it was so powerful. We put up our flags and banners and we had a huge bay for about 50 fans and about 200 police ringing it, and but the exchanges with the home fans were very positive.

It set the vibe up, I felt it was going to be our night, and we scored and played so well in such a potentially hostile environment. And at the end of the game, Harry and Lucas brought over the whole team and they were chucking over shirts and boots. A mate of mine got Harry Kewell-s shirt and Luke Wilkshire, who set up the goal, gave me his No.8 shirt.

A couple of days later, Gary Moretti-s counterpart for the Uzbek team contacted us, and he and the trainer came over to the hotel and we were able to buy the Uzbek team shirts. So I got the No.8 of Server Djeparov from that game.

What's your advice to people who want to travel to watch the Socceroos? Have an open mind, be generous of heart, respect for the culture you travel to, and be a good ambassador for your country because that-s what we all agree on. We find other people in the country pick up on this and it-s a real connection, it-s a passport to the world. Football connects cultures and overcomes politics. Take some risks and get out there.

What do you think will happen against Oman? On Friday night, Holger and the squad won-t take anything for granted. They-ll be going for a win to try and sew up top spot. I-d be very surprised if we lose the game but anything can happen. I-m hoping for a narrow win.

It's likely there-ll be over 300 Australians there because there are a lot of expats, so we-ll create our own atmosphere and play our part to help lift the lads.

And then against Thailand, that-s why I-m hoping we secure top spot, because Thailand will be more difficult. They play good football, they-re on the rise and their confidence is up. I-m absolutely confident we-ll be in the next group stage and quietly confident we-ll make it to Brazil.