Liverpool's popularity in South America may be growing all the time, but the city of Valencia in Venezuela has a long, long way to go before it could ever be described as a hotbed of LFC support.

At school, Jorge De Castro's classmates supported Barcelona, Real Madrid and the top Italian teams.

Refusing to bow to peer pressure, at the age of eight he chose Liverpool Football Club and decided to dedicate his life to supporting a team 4,600 miles away.

This is his Liverpool story...

Name: Jorge De Castro
Age: 21
City/country: Valencia, Venezuela
Job: Engineering student /social media manager

Why did you pick Liverpool as your team?

It was probably because of Michael Owen. In 2001 my grandma got my dad and grandpa a t-shirt of the treble winners and I could hear my dad, grandpa and uncles talking about this wonder kid Owen and, as a kid, I wanted to be like him. Then I guess it was just meant to be. It was a different club to any other I had seen. The relationship between players, manager and fans seemed special and I just ended up falling irrevocably in love with the club and everything it represented. In a country where most people support the Spanish or Italian giants because of the deep influences of colonies from both countries, it made me proud to say I supported Liverpool even without knowing how massive the club was at the beginning.

What's your earliest LFC memory?

It was probably seeing a picture of this very tall blonde fella (Sami Hyypia) lifting the UEFA Cup in 2001. I was just eight at the time but one of my favourite memories was in 2004, when Steven Gerrard scored that goal against Olympiacos. I ran around the house shouting like a mad kid and at night I kept telling my father: "You have to watch that goal!" A couple of days later my dad got me my first Liverpool kit and I was the happiest kid in the world.

How did people in your country follow Liverpool's fortunes at first?

I don't think the Premier League was televised here when I was a kid. At beginning of the 2000s we started getting a couple games a week so fans had to rely on the papers and the internet to find out news about their club. I mostly read (or tried to read) English newspapers to get some news, even though my English wasn't the best at that age, but Liverpool was probably the main reason I was so eager in learning the language so quickly. It was always a big blow when I would check the only channel that showed the Premier League and they weren't showing a Liverpool game that weekend.

Who was your first LFC hero and why?

Although Michael Owen was probably the reason I started supporting the club, my first true hero was our inspirational captain, Stevie G. I was just mesmerised by his incredible runs, his power and obviously, his leadership. My mate and I, an Arsenal supporter, used to stay after school kicking a football around, shouting:  'Gerrard crosses the ball to Henry and GOAL!' To be honest though, I was always more of a Javier Mascherano; that's the reason why I wore the number 20 on my back at school.

What is your favourite LFC memory?

I think Istanbul is probably the pinnacle for almost every Liverpool supporter. That night will always live in our memories as it was probably the most epic European final of all time. But in a more personal way, as I lived it very closely, I will pick the match against Manchester United last season. It was days after the truth about Hillsborough came out, I was at Anfield and prior to the kick-off, I was paying a tribute outside the Shankly gates, leaning against a wall trying to write a message on a Venezuelan flag to leave at the gates when two supporters, one a Scouser and one a Romanian, came up to me and held the flag so I could write my message properly. I thanked them and they said: 'No, thank you.' For me that was immense; a true example of what Liverpool is all about. Once inside it was difficult not to shed a tear during that memorable rendition of the 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

Who has been your favourite Liverpool manager and why?

Rafa Benítez, without a doubt - as I wasn't alive when Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan or King Kenny was in charge first time around. Prior to his arrival at Liverpool, I knew what kind of manager Rafa was. Beating Real Madrid with all their Galácticos and Barcelona for the La Liga title was an incredible achievement. What he did at Liverpool will always remain in my memory, he made us a dominant force in Europe and gave us some of the best nights of football I've ever seen. I was devastated when he left the club. He's one of my heroes and that picture of him and Gerrard holding the European Cup getting off the plane at the John Lennon airport is one of my favourite images of all time.

What has been your lowest point supporting Liverpool?

The epic swindle. Rafa left, the club was in the wrong hands, we even slipped into the bottom three. The idea of going into administration was terrifying. Everything seemed to be going wrong on and off the pitch. It was a complete nightmare.

Tell us about your memories of visiting Anfield?

Luckily, I have been to a couple matches at Anfield. My record stands at one win and one defeat - full of controversy, in my opinion. First time was against West Brom when we were under Roy Hodgson. I consider myself really lucky we won that one, considering the difficult times, and what a goal that was by Fernando Torres. Second time, as I mentioned before, was last year against Manchester United - a 2-1 defeat. Lucky for me, I was at Carrow Road one week later with the travelling Kop singing my lungs out for 90 minutes in the 5-2 demolition of Norwich. Luis Suarez does love scoring against the Canaries. I also took the Anfield tour a couple of times. The last time was with Jan Molby and it was a brilliant day. Rambo is a class act, answered all my questions and shared some really great memories. If I ever get the chance to take another tour with a legend, I'm not the letting the chance pass.

Where were you while we were in Istanbul?

I was at home and was buzzing before the game. I think I even skipped school that afternoon. At half-time, I was devastated, on my knees with my mother telling me: 'It's just a football game'. How little she knew back then how much Liverpool meant to me. I've taught her well since then. I started watching the second half still on my knees, with half my face buried in a Liverpool towel. I didn't get up until Gerrard scored my second favourite headed goal (only topped by Hyypia's goal against Arsenal in the Champions League). As soon as the ball went in, I jumped and my belief rocketed up. Six minutes was all I needed to convince myself we were winning that one. My heart - and I'm sure millions of other supporters' hearts - stopped when Jerzy Dudek made that save against Shevchenko. For the penalties, I was on my knees, fighting with my nerves about whether I could watch the shoot-out or not. To say it was a nerve wracking day is an understatement but it just made it sweeter at the end.

Does Liverpool have a passionate fan base where you're from?

It's not a big fan base. There are huge Spanish and Italian colonies in my country so it's natural most people here support Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Milan. I've met a few Liverpool fans here through the internet though.

Which team are considered Liverpool's biggest rivals in your country?

Knowledgeable football fans will say Everton but most fans say Manchester United.

Where do you go online to follow news about LFC?

One of the first things I do in the morning is check the LFC website and obviously @LFCEspanol on Twitter. Sometimes I check some English media too, preferably the Echo or the BBC. A few friends from Spain and I run our own Liverpool blog in Spanish called 'Esto Es Anfield' (This Is Anfield) and we try to spread content fans can't get in Spanish; match reports, articles about players, interviews, etc. We've had the collaboration of some former players which makes us really proud.

Do you also support a local team?
I support my national team, my beloved Vinotinto. I occasionally go to matches of my local team. Support in South America is mad, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a very bad way. The colour and noise of a South American stadium is special without a doubt, but sometimes fans cross the line. I've been involved in some scary episodes where I've feared for my well-being. I dream one day stadiums here will not have the need of huge fences separating the field from the pitch. I admire the respect in English football.

Who is your favourite current player and why?

Maybe I'm going to be a little different from most people with this question as I'll not say Gerrard. My favourite current player is Lucas Leiva. I remember something Jan Molby said, it was a bit like, you don't need to be brilliant with the ball - if you work your socks off, the Liverpool fans will love you. That's why I love Lucas and recently Jordan Henderson. I admire both players because both had difficult starts at the club, some fans weren't happy; but they showed incredible mental strength to turn things around and their work-rate and passion for the game is amazing. From getting booed to being picked as Player of the Season says everything about Lucas. More than quality and flair, as a fan, I appreciate a player who gives everything for the shirt no matter how difficult the situation. Commitment and determination are key.

If you could meet anyone connected to Liverpool FC - past or present - who would it be and why?

Kenny Dalglish. I'd just love to shake his hand, give him a hug and thank him eternally for everything he's done for the club. As a player, he's surely the best ever alongside maybe Stevie. As a manager he won everything he possibly could. He came back when we needed him the most, the club was at a really low point, and only he could lift it up and make us rise again. Even when some might be critical about his second tenure as a manager, I'll be forever thankful to him. The return of the King lifted our spirits and required massive courage to step up for the job at such a difficult time. But mostly, I'd like to thank him especially for what he did for the Hillsborough families. I've read so many books including his, and I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for the families, the city and the man himself, and the way King Kenny handled himself was just inspirational and top class.

What makes you most proud to be a Liverpool supporter?

After around 12 years getting to understand everything Liverpool represents not only to me, but to fans worldwide, it makes me really proud when someone tells me Liverpool's support is the most amazing support they've seen at a football match. It makes me proud that when I visit another country and I'm wearing a Liverpool shirt, a fellow supporter always comes up to me with a big smile on their face. As I said at the beginning, Liverpool is a club different to any other, it's a worldwide family that stays faithful to its traditions and hopefully will always remain like that.

Finally, what does 'the Liverpool way' mean to you?

It means being part of a family that stays true to their values, always showing respect and solidarity. It means believing in a crest and an anthem that tells you the support will always be there; because in glory and even more importantly, in the toughest and darkest days, you'll never walk alone.

To follow Liverpool's official Spanish-language Twitter account, @LFCEspanol, click here.

Previous articles in the LFC Global Family series

South Africa - Melissa Reddy>>
Thailand - Jeerawan Duangnam Herriot>>
Australia - Wayne Psaila>>
Mexico - Victor Alvarado>>
Indonesia - Andhika Sarwendha Suksmana>>
Nepal - Nischal Adhikari>>
Ghana - Aristo Dotse>>
India - Kaushal Goyal>>
Singapore - Henry Hann>>
Bahrain - Mohamed Ashoor>>
Mongolia - Amarsaikhan Orsoo>>
Vietnam - Pham Quynh Le>>
USA - July 4th Special>>
Iran - Mohammad Reza Rahimi>>
South Korea - Yong-Suk Choi>>
Norway - Arild Skjæveland>>
Russia - Ivan Potapov>>
Myanmar - Khin Maung Cho>>
USA - Roy Yates>>
China - Chen Jing>>
Brazil - Bárbara Rubio>>
Kenya - Mitesh Chavda>>
Spain - Luis Gutierrez>>