Meet the USA team's biggest British fan

Roger Bennett (right) with podcast partner Michael Davies

Roger Bennett (right) with podcast partner Michael Davies

How does a Jewish journalist and filmmaker from Liverpool end up in Rio de Janeiro, helping Americans fall in love with the World Cup?

If it sounds like a schoolboy’s dream come true, it largely is, and Roger Bennett could not be happier.
The 43-year-old is enjoying his new-found fame, despite the United States national side crashing out of the tournament on Tuesday.

Together with his podcast partner and fellow Brit Michael Davies, New York-based Mr Bennett presents the cult-hit Men in Blazers show.

Except now the duo have gone mainstream, just as football reaches its biggest-ever audiences in the US.
Speaking after the US defeat to Belgium, Mr Bennett said: “The pain will never go away, but that’s the joy of football.”

Men in Blazers has moved from satellite radio in the US to be part of broadcasting giant ESPN’s World Cup coverage. Mr Bennett has amassed 141,000 Twitter followers and a new, global fan base, including viewers watching on YouTube.

“I’m surprised by our success in one way because when I first moved to America I would watch games alone in bars,” he said.

“Michael and I sensed when we met in 2010 that the plates were shifting beneath the American sporting landscape.

“Football will grow much bigger in the States. Americans now unashamedly love the game, love their national team and love the English Premier League.

“It’s been the sport of the future but now it’s America’s sporting present. It’s an honour to be part of it.”

An Everton fan, he said there were many similarities between supporting the Premier League club and following the US national team.

“It’s because they are both a collective; greater than the sum of their parts. It's a bit like being Jewish – moments of great highs and terrible lows.”

Last updated: 1:31pm, July 3 2014