Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 15:50 UK

We're Liechtensteiners for a day

Franz Burgmeier (Photo: Ted Blair)
Franz Burgmeier has been a big hit with Darlington supporters

The tiny principality of Liechtenstein has attracted some unlikely fans for its World Cup qualifier against Wales.

A group of Darlington supporters are making a 560-mile round trip to Cardiff to cheer on their summer signing Franz Burgmeier, a Liechtenstein regular.

The Darlington fans will miss their own team's game at Luton, which also takes place on Saturday.

The Liechtenstein football federation is so impressed by its new recruits, it is giving them free tickets.

Darlington supporter Peter Owen said Liechtenstein, which has a population of just 35,000, only usually attracted about 20 travelling supporters, so the Darlo fans would make quite an impression.

"We will probably have our Darlington tops on so fans will know we're Darlington fans," he said.

"One of the lads has bought a Liechtenstein flag on eBay and has got 'Burgmeier' and 'DFC' embroidered on it."

The Darlington fans contacted the Liechtenstein football federation to buy tickets to sit with their fellow fans and received a pleasant surprise.

I am extremely delighted that these fans are coming down for this game
Franz Burgmeier

"They said they were so impressed we were going all that way to watch them that we could have the tickets for nothing," said Mr Owen.

Burgmeier said he was "honoured" by the effort the fans were making to cheer him on.

"I am extremely delighted that these fans are coming down for this game, especially as they will miss the Darlington game on Saturday," he said.

"We [Liechtenstein] need all the support that we can get and I am convinced that these fans will cheer us [to] their very best.

"The fact that they come to the game in their Quakers' [Darlington's nickname] shirts especially to see me play makes me feel very honoured."

Liechtenstein team administrator Andrea Schneider said there were about 25 to 30 Darlington fans going to the game, more than doubling the travelling support.

A sign with the emblem of the Principality of Liechtenstein
Population: 35,100 (slightly larger than Pontypridd in south Wales)
Major language: German
Life expectancy: 75 years (men), 82 years (women)
Head of state: Prince Hans-Adam II
Main exports: Machinery, dental products, foodstuffs, stamps
Capital: Vaduz
Geography: Liechtenstein is between Austria and Switzerland
Football: In 1996 Liechtenstein lost 11-1 to Macedonia
Sport: Every 240th inhabitant of Liechtenstein is president of a sports club
National anthem: The Liechtenstein anthem has the same melody as God Save the Queen

"I know how passionate these fans are and it's great for us to have these guys coming down," she said.

"Franz really loves this support he gets from Darlington and it's wonderful to see."

Ms Schneider said the Darlington supporters were also buying Liechtenstein merchandise online.

"In our online shop, our national shirt is something they like to buy and I get orders now from Darlington," she said.

"Our fans usually are very quiet so I hope these guys shout and scream and do whatever they can to support us!"

Darlington rarely has international players and Burgmeier has established himself as a favourite at the League Two club since signing in the summer.

The 26-year-old will be setting a new club record on Saturday by winning his fourth cap while playing for Darlo, breaking the previous record of three by Jason de Vos of Canada.

But World Cup qualification is a distant dream for Burgmeier as his country is currently bottom of group four with one point.

Quakers sign Liechtenstein star
21 Aug 08 |  Darlington
Liechtenstein signals tax reform
15 Aug 08 |  Business
Wales upbeat over World Cup foes
30 Jun 08 |  League of Wales
Wales 4-0 Liechtenstein
14 Nov 06 |  Internationals
England game goes ahead
24 Mar 03 |  England


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