Among the throngs of fans gathered in Doha, Qatar to cheer on their countries at the 2022 World Cup, one in particular: Argentina fan, Enio Emmanuel Llovera, stands out.
Llovera, 38, dressed in a white tank top, aviator-style sunglasses, and a finely trimmed mustache, turns heads with his deliberate resemblance to Freddie Mercury, the famed late vocalist of the British band Queen. His signature twist to the style: an Argentine flag tied around his waist.
While it all began as a likeness, the Argentinian’s uncanny resemblance has become a lifestyle. “Fifteen years ago, I took on this look,” Llovera said, “but it was only a little over a year ago that I decided to take it very seriously and live a double life.” He would only casually dress like Mercury when going out to nightclubs, but years later, it became a bigger part of his identity. His persona has earned him the name of Freddy Enio on TikTok and Instagram, and he gained even more notoriety during the pandemic when he started sending personalized greetings, or birthday wishes, to people while in character.
“I decided to take it very seriously and live a double life.”
But Llovera doesn’t want to imply that he can be comparable to the rock band legend. As he tells us, “No one is greater than Freddie Mercury.” He’s enjoying living out the persona that hopefully moves his music career forward. “Now, thanks to social media, we can all be actors imagining having other lives. My dream is to be the [Diego] Maradona of music,” adds Llovera, referencing the famous Argentine fútbol player.
Llovera, originally from Santa Lucía, a town around three hours from Buenos Aires, is one of the tens of thousands of fans who reportedly have made the trip to Doha to witness what many consider could be the last performance of Argentine superstar player Lionel Messi on fútbol’s most prominent international stage. Fans from Argentina fans are among the top 10 nationalities that bought the most game tickets in Qatar.
For many fans like Llovera, traveling across the world to watch the tournament in person has required unbelievable financial sacrifices as they tried to scrape together the funds while living in a country suffering an acute economic crisis with one of the highest inflation rates in the world.
Llovera organized a raffle to sell off his car, a bright red 1960 Willys Jeep Baqueano, selling 500 tickets to friends and family and social media followers for 1,000 Argentine pesos each. With these efforts, he earned about $2,900 U.S. dollars. “I quit my job to collect unemployment insurance and for the plane fare, five nights in a hotel, and a ticket to the stadium, which was what you needed to get a visa,” said Llovera as we sat in a cafe in central Doha.
Llovera’s World Cup plans were first hatched in November 2021 when he woke up from a vivid dream where he envisioned himself as a Freddie Mercury impersonator — not just someone who resembled him. In the dream, he appeared in a photograph on the front page of every newspaper, standing next to Lionel Messi, lifting a World Cup trophy in victory. Not only did this dream motivate his World Cup trip, but it also set off the persona sitting in front of us.
“…So far, I can say that my dream has come true.”
“It was at that moment that I decided that I was going to risk everything to be here, and so far, I can say that my dream has come true,” Llovera said, though he conceded he still has yet to get anywhere near Messi. He did, however, see his hero score a goal during the Argentina-Saudi Arabia game, where Messi made his World Cup debut this year. Even though Argentina lost the game 2-1, Llovera was overcome with emotion.
“I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe I had seen Messi score a goal,” he said. “Others were screaming, and I just started crying instead.”
While he’s living out his dreams, the reality is that Llovera has depleted most of his funds. He slept two nights in the airport and has survived on $3 street kebabs. But the generosity of fellow Argentinian fans has kept him on his feet. Some fans have stepped in to offer him food and lodging. “People have been very charitable here, let’s hope that a generous soul gives me one more ticket,” to see another game, he said.
“I quit my job. I left my two dachshunds – Julia and Juana – behind. I sold my car, all for Argentina, for Messi,” Llovera said. He is keeping hope alive for the rest of the World Cup. He still dreams of seeing Messi hold the world’s greatest fútbol prize aloft as he sings Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” an equivocal nod by Llovera: to his Freddie Mercury persona, the sacrifices that brought him here, and his country’s long-standing rep in the game of fútbol.