FOR many youngsters, growing up as a pop star or a professional footballer is often a dream which never plays out in real life.
But for one Solihull man, his childhood wishes became a reality – albeit for just one sunny weekend in Barcelona.
Roger Barnfield – who works at Warwick Technology Park – couldn’t quite believe his luck when he received an email from Barcelona FC which congratulated him on winning the competition of a lifetime, the chance to live as a La Liga football player for one weekend only.
The 31-year-old football fanatic jetted off to the north east of Spain after Barcelona FC picked 22 lucky winners to be part of a Sunday afternoon game of football at the world famous Nou Camp Stadium – which boasts a capacity of more than 99,000 people.
Roger also lived the football dream after being picked up by the official Barcelona FC team coach prior to the game at the end of last month, with some tourists mistaking the National Grid worker for one of Barcelona’s latest stars upon arrival.
Speaking to The Observer, Roger said he had to do a double take when he received the golden email.
He added: “I didn’t believe it at first. There are so many internet scams around now and I did ask myself if this is real – but it was.
“I sent my details across about shirt size, the name for them to print, and what airport I’d fly from.”
Although the Birmingham City fan failed to score, he can claim to be one of few Brits to have played football on Barca’s home turf.
Describing Sunday’s game, a delighted Roger said: “We were picked up in the team coach by the actual Barcelona coach driver, he told us where the star players like Messi and Neymar usually sit.
“Lots of people were taking pictures when we got off the coach after we arrived at the stadium, it was very surreal.
“All our kits were prepared in the dressing room, we had a pep talk and then lined up in the tunnel.
“I was very tired at half time but kept going and played for 80 minutes.”
Upon arrival in Barcelona, Roger met the other 21 lucky winners – one of whom was a Brit – and enjoyed a meal on Barcelona beach front on Friday afternoon.
In addition to the game, the group all took part in a tour of the Nou Camp before being exclusively shown the manager’s office and the youth training ground.
The former Warwick University student said: “It felt like I was back at school.
“The Barcelona coaches told us how they train their players by highlighting the importance of passing and possession football.
“We had our own training session before enjoying some more time with a pair of freestyle footballers.
“It was a weekend I’ll never forget.”