Mexico fan's incredible World Cup journey from 1986 to Russia 2018

MOSCOW -- June 15, 1986 was an important day in the history of Mexican football. Manuel Negrete produced the best goal in the history of the World Cup, at least according to a recent FIFA poll, to help El Tri defeat Bulgaria 2-0 in Estadio Azteca and advance to the quarterfinals of its home World Cup. Mexicans took to the streets to celebrate.

Mexico City native Beto Granados woke up that morning ready for a celebration. It wasn't only Father's Day in Mexico, Granados also had a ticket for the big game. As a Chivas fan obsessed with soccer, everything was set up. Life was good, with Roberto's wife Leticia expecting their second child in a couple of weeks.

But the day took an unexpected turn early in the morning as Leticia began to feel pains that she at first didn't associate with the arrival of a baby.

"She said, 'It's nothing, let's go to the hospital so they can check me out,'" the 59-year-old Beto tells ESPN FC in a Moscow hotel. "It was like she was trying to keep my hopes up because I was going to go [to the game]."

"We got to the hospital and the news came that the birth was on its way and as the husband, well, you have to stay."

Leticia tried to tell Beto to go to the stadium, but instead he listened to parts of the match and Negrete's famous goal on a radio in the hospital. As Mexico celebrated a quarterfinal place; Beto celebrated the birth of his son, Roberto.

"I knew that this game [his son's birth] was more important than Mexico's," said Beto, who is now retired. "Mexico won and it was a double present."

But the dream of watching Mexico at a World Cup remained inside Beto, perhaps even more so because Roberto shared his passion for the game from an early age. Roberto went to sleep at night as a child with a ball next to him and attended Clasico Nacionals between Chivas and Club America inside Estadio Azteca on Beto's shoulders. He even worked for a time as a sports reporter.

Thirty-two years later, it is Roberto's birthday and Beto is finally about to watch El Tri at a World Cup when Mexico take on Germany in the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.

The journey all came about when Roberto,who works as a market analyst, wrote a 350 character entry to FIFA's "Bring Someone Special" competition. Out of 13,000 stories from 150 countries, Beto and Roberto were selected by FIFA for an all-expenses-paid trip to Russia.

Roberto applied last June and was given notification by FIFA that his story was one of the finalists, but then the Sept. 19 earthquake struck central and southern Mexico.

"The earthquake happened and 10 days later they contacted me," says Roberto. "Obviously the earthquake made us forget everything, it was shocking, and when they emailed it was funny because it started with 'my condolences' and I was like, 'it's a no,' but they were condolences for the earthquake and it said 'condolences for the earthquake, but I have good news, we'll be waiting for you in June.'"

Both father and son attended the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia courtesy of FIFA, but Beto can't quite believe how events have transpired.

"Analysing everything that has happened, 32 years ago on Sept. 19 was the [Mexico City] earthquake in 1985 and last year on Sept. 19 it was the 2017 earthquake," he said. "Nine months later [in 1986], [Roberto] was born and nine months on [from the 2017 earthquake], I'm here. Incredible."

They don't mention it, but it was also exactly 32 years ago that Mexico reached the Quinto partido (fifth game, or quarterfinal in the modern format) of the World Cup for the first and only time. Roberto obviously doesn't remember that game in 1986, but he believes this Mexico team can do it again even more than previous editions of the World Cup.

"Every four years the story is very similar," said Roberto. "The hopes and dreams always get the better of us, but I see a different mentality [in the Mexico team] since the players started to say that they wanted to be world champion, which has been criticised."

"But I believe it isn't at all bad to say it. I think anyone in their job everyone wants to be the best and being so requires a long journey that starts with believing that you can achieve it. I see that this national team, within the squad, believes [they can be champion]."