I really enjoy watching football but it seems that that part of me is a bit of an unintentional secret. I don’t support a team that’s in the English Premier League, or any UK team to be honest, so when it’s football season I’m one of those people who is amused by people freaking out on social media when a team wins or loses.
That being said I do support the Spanish National Team and have done since 2007 – long story short, England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 so since my dad lives in Spain I decided to support Spain instead and I never looked back. I know a lot about the Spanish NT and their players and often find myself following players rather than team e.g. I really like David Silva so always get strangely pleased when he scores for Manchester City.
So when it gets to summer and it’s the World Cup or the Euros I get rather excited. I try to watch all of Spain’s matches live (and get very invested and shout at the TV in a mixture of English and Spanish) and am generally quite invested in the stupid sport. In a World Cup I also cheer on Ghana since my mum grew up there – Swarez’s handball against Ghana in South Africa in 2010 caused me and mum to swear and shout quite loudly, the consequent penalty shoot-out was incredibly stressful.
Nothing compares to my love of Spanish football. I love how they play, I love how the coach Vincent Del Bosque doesn’t seem to react at all – both when Spain scores or when things aren’t going that great – and I just love the players.
I suppose my love can be summed up by my experience of the last World Cup. I was on holiday with a group of friends in Malta when the semi-finals were happening, one thing I said from the start of the holiday was that I wanted to watch the Spain vs Germany semi-final (the friends I was with weren’t football fans but agreed) We ended up in this town where they’d set up a huge screen and it was a hub of tourists and there were loads of German and Spanish fans and it was such a great atmosphere. When Puyol scored everyone went crazy and I got mistaken for Spanish because I was cheering so hard. (A guy started talking to me Spanish and I tried to reply in my limited Spanish vocab but he soon figured out I was English and then talked to me in English) So then Spain was in the Finals and all I wanted to do was be in Spain for it.
So it took some time to figure out, first I was going to change my flight from Malta to Spain but there wasn’t any flights to my dad’s nearest airport so this is what happened. I flew back to London Gatwick with my friends, landing around 4am (UK time) on 11th July 2010, I then had to grab my bag and go from the North Terminal to the South Terminal and check in my bag again (I had booked my plane tickets and printed them off in Malta) and then get on a plane to Spain at 6:30am UK time. I arrived in Spain a few hours later and slept all afternoon before going to my dad’s local pub with him and my sister to watch the Span vs Netherlands final on Spanish TV. It was one of the tensest matches I’ve ever seen. When Xabi Alonso was kicked in the chest by Nigel de Jong all the Spaniards started shouting. The atmosphere in the bar was incredible (even better than when I was in Malta with Spaniards and Germans) and when Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the last minutes of extra time everyone was jumping and cheering and hugging – such a great feeling of euphoria (possibly an exaggeration but I haven’t felt anything like it since)
When the match finished we walked down to the biggest fountain in the town. It’s in the middle of a roundabout and loads of people were dancing in the fountain. Cars filled with people and flags slowly made their way to the roundabout, drove round it beeping their horns and then went off somewhere else to celebrate. There were hundreds of people down there and it was wonderful.
So to say I’m that excited about the World Cup and that I sincerely hope that Spain will do amazing and possible even retain their title (how incredible and record breaking would that be?!) would be a bit of an understatement. I shall be wearing my Spain shirt and shouting at my laptop for as long as Spain are in the tournament.
So yes, I may not follow football from day to day, or support at club, or even support England, but I am a fan of the game and I’m a fan of Spain.
I shall leave you with a video that never fails to make me feel nostalgic and a bit emotional as it brings back all the great memories I have of the World Cup in South Africa.