Fan walks 1,500 miles to cup final ... without a ticket

How far would you walk to see your team play in a cup final? Boca Juniors fan Leandro Fortunato has walked 1,500 miles (2,451 kilometres) from his native Argentina to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil ahead of Saturday's match against Fluminense in the final of the Copa Libertadores, South America's version of the UEFA Champions League.

Fortunato walked for 24 days from Santa Fe to Rio, where the match will be staged at the city's iconic Maracanã stadium. Along the way, he shared his route and details of his travels on Instagram.

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"I went out in search of clarifying body, head, soul and heart," Fortunato told ESPN Argentina's "Generacion F." "I found that Boca reached the final of the Libertadores and I started to walk. I was at my uncle's house in Santo Tomé, Santa Fe, and I told him 'I'm going to Rio.' And I started [to walk.] I went to Paraná and left from there."

Fortunato had to hitchhike to cross to Uruguay because the border bridge between Paso de los Libres and Uruguayana was "too damaged" to walk on. He arrived in Rio on Monday, on what would have been Argentina legend Diego Maradona's 63rd birthday. Fortunato said: "It was like a sign. I felt like he told me 'come on lad, you will get there today.'

"When I arrived, I couldn't believe it. I went through heat, rain, leg pain. The pain in my knee is incredible ... but I'm excited. The first thing I saw was a Boca contingent who shouted at me: 'You're here!' It was the first photo I uploaded on Instagram. And they told me 'you are a source of pride for everyone, you are going to make history.'"

Boca fans donated money for Fortunato to be able to complete his trip. "With the help of all the Boca people, they gave me money to be able to rent a room and be able to sleep," he said.

Fortunato's efforts have been rewarded with Argentine streamer Martin "Coscu" Perez and "Generacion F" giving him a ticket to the final at the Maracana Stadium.

"It's the best news of the day," Fortunato said. "I'm very happy. I'm dreaming, I can't believe everything I did. That the people of Boca greet me ... It's a privilege to be here."

Fortunato posted a photograph on a beach in Rio wearing a Boca jersey with his arms open on his Instagram story and he wrote: "How can I not feel this way?"

Buenos Aires-based Boca, who are looking to lift their seventh title on Saturday, have not won the Copa Libertadores since 2007. They have lost two finals in the intervening years, memorably being beaten by bitter city rivals River Plate in the 2018, the second leg of which was played at Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium.