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This American World Cup superfan will surpass his 150th match in Russia this summer

Clifton Broumand, 60, poses before a U.S. match at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. (Photos courtesy of Clifton Broumand)

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For his 10th World Cup, Clifton Broumand hopes he won’t need to wear a shower curtain again.

Four years ago, as a storm raged in the Brazilian beach town of Natal, Broumand couldn’t find a poncho to purchase before the Mexico-Cameroon match. He did, however, locate a shower curtain adorned with blue floral designs, and he cut a slit in it.

“Everyone was laughing,” he recalled last week, “but I wasn’t the one getting soaked.”

These are the type of weird and wonderful adventures the 60-year-old business owner and World Cup superfan is sure to encounter in Russia in the coming weeks. His obsession began with the 1982 tournament in Spain and, with plans to attend about 13 matches this summer, his career total will easily surpass 150.

Using soccer parlance for international appearances, that’s a whole lot of caps.

Broumand, who splits home life between the D.C. area and South Florida, will be among thousands of Americans attending the World Cup, even though the U.S. team failed to qualify. About 80,000 tickets have been purchased by U.S. buyers, second-most behind Russians. Next on the list are the Brazilians, Colombians and Germans.

Many U.S. travelers have diverse roots and support other countries, while some are chasing life experiences. Broumand fits into the latter category.

He typically buys from scalpers outside the stadium just before kickoff — “My motto is: There’s always one ticket,” he said — but because security protocol requires spectators to apply for a preapproved fan ID, Broumand got seats in advance to Germany vs. South Korea, Sweden vs. South Korea and Denmark vs. Australia.

The prospects of navigating a huge country — with limited travel options between cities without first passing through Moscow — prompted him to rent an apartment in Kazan, 500 miles east of the capital. From there, he will make round trips the same day to venues in Samara (222 miles), Saransk (245) and Nizhny Novgorod (241).

“I thought, ‘Where can I get around and see the most games not in Moscow?’ ” he said. “Because effectively, Moscow is going to be a mess.”

Renting a car was too expensive, so he hired a driver for $129 a day, plus fuel costs. He’ll be joined by other soccer swashbucklers, such as Paul Fearon, 64, from the Kansas City area. They first crossed paths at the 1990 World Cup in Italy and, while building a friendship, have gotten together at every tournament since.

“We are close in age,” Broumand said, “and craziness.”

Though he got married last year, his wife is not coming.

“Most men can’t handle it, I don’t know many women who could either,” he said. “My life is soccer for three weeks. It’s basically: Go to a soccer game, go home, go to bed, go to a soccer game …”

In 1994, when the United States hosted, he, Fearon and others piled into a minivan and traversed the country: Boston to Chicago, Chicago to Washington and so on. Four years ago, Broumand maximized match options and minimized use of his bank account by circulating through northeast Brazil (Fortaleza, Natal and Recife).

To attract attention of ticket-sellers near the stadiums, he stands with a U.S. flag attached to a fishing pole and a raised index finger. As kickoff approaches, prices tumble.

Given demand and cost, he has never attended a championship match. (He has been to an opener, semifinal and third-place game.) In 2014, he watched the final between Germany and Argentina from a riverside bar in Austin. For the 2010 final in South Africa, after attending 22 games, he was atop a Cape Town hotel that featured functional Airstream trailers on the roof.

“One of these days, being 60 now, I am going to end up breaking down,” he said, “and doing the final just to check it off my bucket list.”

This year’s trip will begin June 12 and end July 6, nine days before the final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Broumand is already looking forward to Qatar four years from now. In a country the size of Connecticut, he thinks he can get to 44 of 64 matches.

“A bunch of friends, we hire a driver with a van, sprint out of the stadium after the game, drive to another game,” he said excitedly. “It’s possible to do two in a day. At 64, that will be my last hurrah.”

The World Cup is coming. Want smart analysis, opinions, viewing guides and more? Sign up for our month-long newsletter. First edition coming on June 13th.