The Life of an Overseas Arsenal Fan #2: Our Writers’ Stories
By Rob Worthington (Senior Writer)
Off the back of my article last week discussing time zone issues with our international writers, I was left intrigued to find out more about their lives as Arsenal fans.
Something that has always interested me regarding football fans is how they ended up supporting the club they love. Some of the most interesting stories you’ll hear are from international supporters.
Don’t get me wrong, there is something quite beautiful about supporting the same team as your dad/mum/grandad/grandma/uncle/aunt etc.
However, for reasons that’ll become obvious in this article, not everyone has the opportunity to have a love for a football club passed down to them by their family.
Allan, one of our younger writers and a relatively new addition to the team, tells his story below:
“Being an Arsenal fan from Australia is difficult, to say the least. I started supporting the club when I was eleven, first through my football mates at school, then through FIFA.”
“When I started following the club, I knew nothing about them. I knew who Arsene Wenger was, but thought Wayne Rooney was captain.”
You’ll be glad to hear that Allan now knows that Wayne Rooney has never played for North London’s finest club.
Our most recent addition to the writing team, Mac Johnson, who resides in Washington, also found Arsenal through a friend. Nonetheless, his story is a little bit different to Allan's:
“I've been an Arsenal fan since around 2008. My best friend returned from a year in London sporting a Dutchman-who-shall-not-be-named jersey. And there we had it; I was a Gooner!”
Funnily enough, seeing/receiving a shirt is a common initial attraction to a football club. Arsenal centre-back William Saliba himself recently admitted the gift of an Arsenal kit from his mother led him to falling in love with Arsenal as a child.
Saliba has also mentioned that French legends of the club such as Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry also enticed him. Our tactical analyst, Vinay Shankar, from India, also started following Arsenal due to the man widely accepted to be the greatest ever Gunner, Thierry Henry.
On the other hand, the co-editor of this site, Daniel Finton, from Florida, and another member of the WLYA team, Alex Trad, also from Washington, were originally enticed by a different Frenchman. A certain Arsène Wenger:
Daniel: “I started my journey as an American Arsenal fan in 2010 after I saw a clip of the gunners playing some sexy Wenger-ball in my house on the East coast”.
Alex: “Whilst I was waiting to board a flight back home after holiday, I spotted that Arsenal were being broadcasted live, and my curiosity brought me to start watching.”
“I was immediately encapsulated by some fluid, attacking Wenger Ball. It just looked right. My eyes were instantly glued to that television screen and haven't left them since...”
Clearly, the style of football our former manager implemented was a major attraction for many Arsenal fans. It is a real shame that flair has demised since the great man’s departure.
Nevertheless, the lack of consistent beautiful football delivered by Arsenal hasn’t stopped Daniel or Alex from supporting the club which they have grown to love. They are just as committed as us Brits.
To be frank, it doesn’t matter how one grows to adore the club they support. Once you gain that attachment, it’s impossible to let go.
My dad would’ve loved it if I had chosen to support Aston Villa, his team. However, I was already enamoured by Arsenal and that hasn't changed since. Regardless of where they’re from or how they started to support Arsenal, this means I share a love with millions of people around the world. This fills me with immense pride.
So, I’ll conclude this article just how I ended last week’s piece. Instead of criticising or demeaning a fellow international Gooner simply because they don't live in the UK, respect them. International fans love the club just as much as us and often their own Arsenal stories are a lot more interesting!
Thanks again to Allan, Alex, Daniel, Mac and Vinay for helping me out with this piece.