Flynn and his son Bruce I’m one of those people, the kind that supports a different national team to their own.

I’ve never wanted to see the United States soccer team lose. Of either gender, as the women’s team have won three World Cups. But the national team who gives the most joy and pain isn’t going to the World Cup either. That’s the Oranje, as the Dutch national team is often known.

How I became a honourary Dutchie, inflicted with a predilection for the colour orange (my favourite baseball team doesn't help) and the 4-3-3 formation, has its roots in a decision made years before I was born. In 1980, my aunt Eileen began teaching at the American School of The Hague. Eileen has lived in the Netherlands ever since, marrying a Dutchman and buying a house in a charming little village called Koudekerk aan den Rijn, east of Leiden.

No one could spoil a niece or nephew like Eileen, sending my cousin Kate and I huge care packages from the Netherlands every Christmas. Boxes of stroopwafels, speculaas and pepernoten to eat. Miffy books when we were little, Tintin (I know, he’s Belgian) when we were older. Christmas decorations with the slightly different Saint Nicholas versus the apple-cheeked Santa Claus. Finally, football shirts, balls, and magazines. To someone from a country with almost no native footballing culture, they were exotic, elegant and fascinating. Being autistic often means zigging when others have zagged, and although I love baseball with all my heart, I was a football fan back when that was a rare thing for a native-born American.

Eileen had fortuitous timing, because the 90s were a rich period for Dutch football. Ajax Amsterdam were among the best teams in Europe  – among the things my aunt sent me was a pennant, the kind captains exchange before matches, that says “Ajax is art” without a hint of irony. The national team was stocked with legendary players. Ronald Koeman, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten were left over from the Euro 88 winners, and Dennis Bergkamp, the de Boer twins (Ronald and Frank), Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, and Patrick Kluivert were coming into their own. This team played occasionally imperious, occasionally infuriating passing football in vivid orange shirts unlike any other team (I didn’t know the Côte d’Ivoire yet). Although they did the usually Dutch thing of playing beautiful football while being knocked out in the semifinal, a love affair was born.

One of my favourite Oranje memories was visiting my aunt in 2010 to watch them play in the World Cup final. I flew from London to Rotterdam – it was my first time in the Netherlands – and was enveloped in a glorious embrace of orange. Virtually the entire country was in the colour, from buildings, to people, to food (orange cake abounded). Although Bert van Marwijk’s team won no prizes for style – unusually for a Dutch team, there was no visible debt to Total Football, the paradigm-shifting version of the game pioneered by Ajax in the 1960s – they were in the final. We won’t talk about that defeat, their third loss in a World Cup final, but I will talk about the boisterous, anarchic homecoming parade, full of people jumping into Amsterdam’s canals, orange flares, and Wesley Sneijder waving a giant flag. My only regret was I forgot to wear my No. 14 Johan Cruijff shirt for the parade.

When an autistic person loves something, they love it. The special interest-like fascination I have for Dutch football involves an Oranje mug (courtesy of a Dutch-raised co-worker, Heidi) and an Oranje phone case (with the unforgettable pattern of their winning Euro ’88 shirts). I have a half-dozen Oranje shirts, from 1970s retro classics (for sensory reasons, I tend to prefer the retro cotton shirts) to the iconic 1998 shirt, and a few Ajax ones too. I’ve got several books on the team, a few in Dutch. I watch as many national team games as I can.

After a visit with my cousin to see my aunt a few years ago, I began learning Dutch, and can flip through Voetbal International or listen to Langs De Lijn and get it. My language goal is to achieve the ability to read Auke Kok’s magisterial 1974: Wij waren de besten, about the remarkable 1974 team whose thrilling Total Football was stopped in the final by a dogged West Germany, without needing a dictionary every minute.

Sadly, Oranje didn’t make it this year – courtesy of an ill-advised managerial selection and one woeful night in Bulgaria from the 17-year-old phenom Matthijs de Ligt. But I’ll be enjoying the World Cup along with everyone else. Wearing orange, of course.

This is the third in a series of blogs during the World Cup. They'll feature autistic football fans, autistic football players and much more.

Read Jack's blog