By Andy Hirst
A wacky England fan from Holmfirth has already visited all eight World Cup stadia in Qatar to show his lack of footballing skills – and was thrown off most of them by security guards!
Alan Macdonald thought it would be amusing to go to the eight stadia to give fans a first glimpse of them and decided on a comic twist by trying to do a keepie uppie challenge outside each one.
Security guards at the stadia failed to see the funny side and forced him off the sites, but the plucky 39-year-old kept going back.
Alan said: “It all began when I visited a friend in Qatar’s capital city Doha. I decided to buy a football and do a keepie uppie challenge in front of all eight Qatar 2022 World Cup football stadiums even though I’m overweight and rubbish at football.”
Alan, who has a great natural sense of humour, filmed it for his YouTube channel called Travel Saved My Life.
Alan discovered that most of the security guards didn’t want him filming even outside the stadia.
He said: “I got thrown off the sites over a dozen times by security, sometimes frog-marched and other times driven off on a golf buggy.
“I just waited for the security guard to walk off and then went straight back to continue filming. They kept saying ‘you can’t film here, you can’t film the stadium’ and I pointed out that in a few months millions of people will be viewing the stadiums on TV.
“Nobody else has shown all eight stadiums in one video and I was keen to be the first, explaining their designs while doing the keepie uppies for a laugh.
“Every stadium is incredible with each one built around a different theme. It’s fair to say they don’t do anything by halves over there – it’s cost billions and the stadiums have state-of-the-art air conditioning.”
There is a serious side to Alan’s motives to travelling around the world. He used to have an alcohol problem and discovered that travelling kept him off the booze.
“I used to be a drunk,” he admits. “Having fallen off scaffolding, been found choking on my own vomit, getting hit by a car and falling down the stairs and almost bleeding to death I hit rock bottom.
“I’d been partying hard and going way too far all my adult life and realised something had to change as I was just so sad most of the time when I was on my own.”
Alan’s gran left him £5,000 so five years ago he decided to use that as a way to make the dramatic change. He bought a one-way ticket to Thailand and started travelling. Since then he’s been to Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia, South America and the Caribbean.
“I ran away as far as I could … and it worked,” said Alan. “It was kind of the last roll of the dice. If gran hadn’t left me the money I’d probably be 6ft under by now.
“Instead, I’m sharing what I do with people on my YouTube channel and, in a way, I feel reborn. I don’t drink now except on very special occasions such as stag dos and weddings.”
Alan returns home to Holmfirth between trips to work hard and save up money for the next one. He’s now working as a window cleaner and his next destination is New York.
Looking back on his old life, Alan said: “I just never knew moderation – when everyone else was drinking their first pint I was on my third.
“I can see now I had big problems. I was a black-out drunk so one minute I’d be in the pub then I’d blink and wake up in crazy places like graveyards, multi-storey car parks, fields, dumpsters and hospitals.”
Since launching Travel Saved My Life on YouTube Alan is keen to visit and film in as many countries as possible. He’s been to more than 20 since that first trip to Thailand and there are a lot more videos to come.
He’s even started doing public speaking events talking about his life and how it’s changed so much.
To watch Alan’s stadiums keepie uppie video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3wm_SNCs2I
To see more of Alan’s videos go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg7D4xaONeWzuDG3ueVCB4A
* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.