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Real soccer fans are there when their teams lose, not when they win trophies

The team in your heart is like a first love. It's forever.

If you don't agree with this, you never loved someone deeply, so you can't understand.

Please stop reading now!

For all the others, I'd like to explain that being a soccer fan is like contracting the youth diseases that kids have at a tender age, with one enormous difference.

You NEVER heal.

If you get the Liverpool, A.C. Milan, Manchester United or Real Madrid 'disease', and there are hundreds of these 'diseases' in the world, it becomes a chronic illness. You get better or worse, but you need to learn to live with it.

I grew up in the outskirts of Milano, Italy, and being that I'm 57, when I was a kid TV didn't exist and a car passed on the street once in a while.

What does this mean?

It means that we spent all day OUTSIDE and CONSTANTLY played in the street. Not necessarily soccer. Soccer was only for 3 or 4 hours and for the rest of the day we'd do something else.

How do you catch the 'illness' of a team?

There are three different ways.

-A friend that you really like gives it to you.
-A friend that you really hate (but still a friend) pushes you into the arms of the opposing team.
-You were bored and fell into the trap of a soccer stadium.

By living in Northern Italy, you can basically catch the 'illness' Inter Milan, A.C. Milan or Juventus. How can someone from Milano become a Juventus fan? I just said it. You hate someone from the other 2 teams. As simple as that. There's no worse 'disease' you can have than cheering for Juventus if you're born in Milano.

I contracted the A.C. Milan 'disease' and I can barely even stay close to an Inter Milan fan. But I had to learn to do that because one of them was my mom! So you can understand that I needed to find a compromise. In general we call them 'cousins'. Cousins from a wrong family. With Juventus? Pure hate for more than a century.

Just to give you a taste, every A.C. Milan supporter who doesn't know the score yet for that Sunday, first asks: "What was Juventus' score?", "What was Inter's score?". If one of these two lost, it was already a good Sunday. If both lost, it was an unforgettable Sunday. The score of A.C. Milan, win or lose, is purely marginal. Of course, if they have won, all the better!

So, try to understand that for an English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Scottish, Irish or Belgian fan, the fact that the 'hated' team looses is more important than OUR team's victory.

Is that unfair? So what? That's soccer for real and if you don't understand it's not OUR fault. It's YOURS.

We don't jump on the band wagon of the winning team.

All the teams, through the last century, have had glorious or devastating moments.

A.C. Milan, that in the last 15 years have won EVERYTHING it's possible to win in the history of soccer, has had horrible moments. We went to the B Division. That means we were relegated, being at the bottom of the standing, two times. Even in the B Division, A.C. Milan, on Sunday, had an average of 35,000 spectators (the second in all of Italy) who sustained and cheered for them.

I can't forget the last game of the season, a long time ago, when we could have been saved from the relegation with a victory. The whole city was covered with posters and banners asking the 'True Milanese' to go to the stadium. The Mayor talked on the radio and TV. People who never even put a foot in a stadium in their lives, were there. Even my mom, as a 'True Milanese' and a 'good enemy' was there. The tickets were very cheap and kids got in without paying. The stadium was filled with 87,000 spectators who stood instead of sitting, to leave more space.

The game went well until the finish. We were winning 1-0 until the opposing team tied in the last minute. The silence could be cut with a knife. When the game ended all the players came to the center field to say thanks to the public who began to sing: MI........LAN, MI.........LAN, MI.........LAN.

That moment, when we were relegated was very sad. But we knew in that moment that we'd come back in two years. From there A.C. Milan became the 'soccer machine' that triturated all the opponents in winning Championships, Champion Leagues, World Cups for Clubs and all the trophies that really count in soccer.

This is my team. My first love.

I even had the honor to play with that jersey when I was 17. But that's another story.

Coach Gianni
Posted on 23 Nov 2005 by coachgianni
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