EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (PIX11) – The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off later this month in Qatar, and soccer fans were joining in on the excitement in New Jersey.

Die-hard fans and aspiring soccer stars all converged on American Dream in East Rutherford to gaze in wonder. The gold FIFA World Cup trophy was on display at the mega mall, all part of a worldwide tour giving fans a rare up-close and personal experience.

“Compared to the Stanley Cup or Vince Lombardi Trophy or any other big type of trophy, this one is a big-time trophy,” said Irving Alvarado of West New York.

Gov. Phil Murphy, along with Sen. Bob Menendez and former Brazilian soccer superstar Kaká, were all on hand Tuesday and part of a coalition that’s building up anticipation for the tournament this month as well as when the World Cup comes to the New York/New Jersey area in 2026.

“New Jersey and MetLife Stadium will host a whole bunch of games in 2026 World Cup and we cannot wait,” Murphy said.

“In 2002 I won this trophy with Brazil, and because of that I am one of the people who can hold the trophy because FIFA has a lot of protocols with that and I am very privileged,” Kaká said.

Local youth soccer leagues also had the opportunity to pose with the 13.5-pound trophy made of 18-karat gold and malachite. They later took to the field at American Dream where their skills were put to the test.

Tuesday’s visit marks the final leg of the trophy’s tour, which is the first time it has visited all 32 qualifying nations in a lead up to the World Cup.

Despite it being four years away, the expectations for the World Cup when it arrives to the New York/New Jersey area are already high.

“It’s going to be a great economic driver when it comes to this World Cup. Everyone is going to come from around the world. It’s going to be an exciting four more years. Let’s get through this World Cup cycle first,” Alvarado said.