RUSSIA’S biggest Millwall fans have vowed to cheer on England at the World Cup – saying the war in Ukraine won’t stop them following the sport they love.
But won’t stop the Anglophile footie fans of the Millwall Russian Lions who have said they will be toasting the Three Lions at the World Cup.
And every week they congregate at Churchill’s Pub in Moscow, which bedecked with footie merch and nods to the United Kingdom.
It even had a traditional red phone box outside and makes sure to show English matches on the television – but especially Millwall games.
The war has made things tough for the Russian Lions – and they have called for peace, urging Putin to stop the “madness” in Ukraine.
Tensions have sadly put a stop to them travelling to London to visit The Den to watch their beloved side.
And they are heartbroken that they can’t even get London Pride anymore due to the sanctions placed on Russia.
Maxim Prokhoroenko, 42, head of the Russian Lions, however told The Sun Online all these troubles won’t stop them from cheering on England at the World Cup.
He added they have St George’s and Union Jack flags at Churchill’s Pub – but they don’t hang them or carry them outside anymore due to the politics.
The pub is bedecked with football memorabilia and scarves.
It also has pictures of Winston Churchill and British kings hanging around the bar which is loving crafted to look like a classic boozer.
“We will support England. My strong opinion is that the sport is above the politics,” Maxim told The Sun Online.
“The political situation between our countries is not good, but it’s just football.”
He went on: “I have many friends in UK, we keep on chatting, they are sending me pictures and videos from The Den, I hope I will be able to come to London to see my Millwall again.”
Maxim said he believes England “deserves” to win the 2022 World Cup after the Three Lions heartbreakingly missed out at Euro 2020 in a gut-wrenching penalty shootout against Italy.
He and his pals will be adding their cheers and chants for England some 2,000 miles from Doha, 1,600 miles from the UK.
Maxim said: “England every tournament has a very strong team, but every time after 1966 something is going wrong. I can’t explain this magic.”
He joked that England should replace Gareth Southgate with a manager like bumbling fictional coach Mike Bassett and play “four, four, f***ing two”.
However, despite vowing the cheer on England – he said he didn’t know who will win the World Cup.
“I don’t want to be like Pele saying rubbish predictions every time,” Maxim told The Sun Online, but added he thinks Serbia could have a chance to pull off a shock.
And speaking of the home of English football in Russia – Churchill’s Pub – he said he “loves” the venue, saying it represented proper UK pub culture in Russia.
“It has that unique English pub’s atmosphere. That’s why we chose it as a home for Russian Lions,” explained Maxim.
But he bemoaned the absence of his favourite beer London Pride.
“Russia is under sanctions now, so we can’t get it now, either we still have good choice of ales, lagers and spirits,” he told The Sun Online.
“I usually drink bitter ales or stouts and love Scottish pie and fish’n’chips.
“And a drum of good Islay smoked scotch is a nice choice in Russian cold climate.”
Russia will not be competing the World Cup this year despite being the host nation in 2018.
FIFA kicked the side out after numerous nations vowed to refuse to play against the final stages of qualification due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The war has seen Russia become an pariah state – with strained relations at the UK, US and other Western nations at breaking point sparking fears of World War 3.
However, Maxim and his friends have vowed rise above it all in the name of a shared international love of the beautiful game.
Maxim previously explained he was introduced to the club while working with a British building firm on a job in Russia.
“Most of workers there were from Birmingham and supported Birmingham City, but two lads were Millwall fans,” he previously told The Sun Online.
“They told me about this small club, and the Brummies said Millwall fans are the most terrible and the craziest in the whole world.
“So I thought, that’s it, this would be my choice. If all English football fans are afraid of Millwall – it would be a proper club to support.”
Millwall Supporters’ Club Russia helps the growing contingent of Lions fans in Vladimir Putin’s nation to get to games, organising tickets and transport.
Before being stopped by Covid and then the Ukraine war, Maxim and his pals would try to get to the games “two or three times a year”.
He shared with The Sun Online numerous pictures of him at the ground, including posing with players and the club’s former owner Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis.
“The fans are ordinary people, the descendants of dock workers,” said Maxim.
“These are people who say and do what they think. It is very closed to outsiders, one might say a family club, they do not like outsiders.
“But if you got into a family, it will be 100 per cent yours there.”
Fan groups for Millwall exist across Russian language social media site VK, with forums active where fans can discuss the Lions.
Millwall are currently mid-table in the Championship as hopes of promotion to the Premier League ebb way for the side from Bermondsey.
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