World Cup 2022: Sunderland University student from USA prepares for World Cup Group B game against England

Sunderland student Ryan O’Hara will be showing his allegiance for the stars and stripes rather than the Three Lions as Gareth Southgate’s England take on the USA in the World Cup.

Following their 6-2 victory over Iran, England will be overwhelming favourites to win the game – and Sports Journalism student Ryan says he has “been on the receiving end of enough banter to last him a lifetime” in the build up to kick-off at 7pm on Friday, November 25.

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Ryan, 19, from Lewisburg in Pennsylvania, said: “Let's just say it’s been interesting over the last few weeks as the game has got closer. But I can give it out as well as take it, so I think Friday is going to be a lot of fun.”

Soccer, as he calls it, has always been a big passion for Ryan and with emotions set to run high as qualification for the tournament’s last 16 is at stake, he is currently mulling over where to watch the match.

He continued: “Football has really been growing in the US, particularly since the World Cup there in ‘94, and it is continuing to grow still. I knew it would be interesting to be in England when we played them this year, and I’ve been looking forward to watching the game.”

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Ryan is enjoying his time in Sunderland – and if heated banter does break-out during the fixture, he concedes he may not always understand what is being said as he adapts to the Mackem accent.

University of Sunderland Sports Journalism student Ryan O’Hara, from Pennsylvania, is looking forward to his country's World Cup fixture against England on Friday. Picture: David James Wood.
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Accent barrier aside, Ryan is pleased he decided to travel almost 4,000 miles from his home at the city’s university, rather than institutions back in the USA.

He continued: “I’d been considering a number of American colleges, which are incredibly expensive, when my mum suggested looking at some in England.

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“For years now I have known that I wanted to work in the field of communications and, more recently, I wanted to involve sport in that, so the programme at Sunderland seemed perfect.

“I also knew I would get personal support from the academics here, much more than I would in America, so that was another reason.

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Ryan O’Hara enjoying a World Cup fixture at the University of Sunderland.

The University also seemed to be able to prepare students and get them into the career they want and that’s something that’s important to me.”