Meet the Costa Rican who created The Hispanic Wall because he loves Wales
Striking up a friendship with a Wales fan online was the catalyst for Julian ‘JK” Granados to embrace Welsh culture.
The 20-year-old endeared himself to Welsh fans around the globe when he posted a video showing him singing the Welsh National Anthem ahead of the Euro 2020 game with Denmark.
So fully embracing of Wales is he that he has launched The Hispanic Wall, a Twitter and Instagram account for like-minded fans from Central and South America who have an interest in the Welsh national side.
“I have a friend on Instagram called Shay, who is from Wales and a football fan,” says Julian. “So I decided to find out as much as I could about Welsh football.
“I also love dragons, and once I saw the flag of Wales, I loved it.”
The Costa Rican Wales fan, confesses he adores everything about his newly adopted country – especially the people and the food.
“I like everything,” he says. ”The food, the people, how patriotic the people are and how they support their home country. I made a Welsh Rarebit recently. It was really nice. I’m also planning on making Welsh cakes.”
The adopted Welshman says while lots of his friends support the world’s biggest football clubs, he’s a bit of an anomaly supporting the Red Dragons.
“Most of them support teams outside Costa Rica, mostly the popular ones like Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG. English clubs too,” he says. “I support Liverpool as well as Wales and the first time my friends saw me with my Wales shirt, they believed it was a Liverpool shirt.
“It is not common to see people in Costa Rica wearing a Wales shirt,” he laughs.
Julian and his Wales fan social media account first came to prominence during the Euros, with many fans of The Red Wall sharing his posts and sending him supportive messages. He says he now feels like he’s been adopted by a second family.
“I remember the first time I started to receive messages, I believe I was sleeping,” he recalls. (the UK is seven hours ahead of Costa Rica).
“When I woke up, I didn’t believe it. I felt for the first time outside my family and friends, I felt loved by a lot of people. It means so much to me. Like I scored a goal in a final.”
Julian’s love-in with Wales fans peaked when he videoed himself singing the Welsh national anthem, after an appeal was put out by the Football Association of Wales for fans to film themselves singing the anthem for a montage video that would be sent to the team ahead of their clash with Denmark.
He admits to be taken aback by the positive responses he received, which were especially welcome as he has faced struggles with his mental health.
“I learned the anthem from watching YouTube videos and listening again and again,” says Julian, who lives with his parents in Costa Rica. “My native language is Spanish, I also speak English, because I love the language and now I speak a little bit of Welsh, which I am learning using Duolingo.
“I made the video of the anthem to support Wales against Denmark, but unfortunately of course we didn’t get to the quarter finals. I was shocked about the response to the video.
“But I feel very grateful for the people who made my day and said such nice things about my video, it has helped with my struggles with my mental health, depression and anxiety. The people of Wales are very nice. I believe they are angels of St. David!”
— The Hispanic Wall 🏴🇨🇷 (@TheHispanicWall) June 25, 2021
Despite the loss to the Danes, the Costa Rican Wales fan admits he enjoyed the Euros adventure – even if there were a few nerve-wracking moments.
“Some Hispanic YouTubers forecast that Wales would finish in fourth place in their groups,” says Julian. “I didn’t believe that. I always thought we could get out of the group. The match against Turkey made my day, but I was very nervous when we played Italy.
“Luckily we finished in second place in the group. My first Euros supporting Wales was really good and I would love if they qualified in 2024. I would also love to see Wales In the World Cup.
“It’s time for the people who have waited more than 60 years see Wales in the most important tournament of in the world.”
Like many Wales fans globally Gareth Bale is Julian’s favourite Wales player, “but also Dan James, although unfortunately, he plays for Manchester United. I like it when he plays with Cymru, and of course Harry Wilson, Neco, and Rushie (Ian Rush) of course. A Liverpool legend.”
The young Wales fan, who has a mini shrine to the team at his home with Wales shirts, scarves, stickers and a flag, hopes that he will one day get to see his heroes play
“My biggest dream is to watch them live,” says Julian. “I don’t have enough money to travel to Wales. But if Cymru plays over here versus Costa Rica, I’m going to be the first to buy a ticket for the match.”
His final wish is that The Hispanic Wall will grow and he will be joined by other fans from Central and South America who want to throw their support behind Wales.
“The Hispanic Wall I created for one reason, to teach people why Wales football is the biggest and most passionate thing you can imagine.
“I would like to say I am a very proud honorary Welshman. And I would love to visit sometime.
Cymru Am Byth. Gales Por Siempre! (Wales forever)”