Football fans are some of the most interesting people in the world. They are witty, hilarious and more often than not would go the extra mile to support their teams. It’s not surprising, really. The beautiful game is the biggest sport in the world, it attracts the largest number of supporters, it’s a global business that rakes in millions of pounds on a regular. Therefore, its fans are allowed to be extra. I used to watch football occasionally when I was a kid – whenever Nigeria played. However, I became more interested in the game in the late 90s. I also started supporting Manchester United in 2005. In the almost 13 years I have considered myself a sold out fan of the sport, I have observed a couple of characteristics that define the typical football fan.
There are many people who follow football matches. A huge percentage of these people are loyal to specific football clubs. In Nigeria, most ardent followers of the round leather game are supporters are European clubs, English Premier League clubs in particular, and many of them exhibit similar traits. Traits that are akin to the DNA shared by parents and their offspring. Without further ado, if you’ve been thinking about becoming a football fan here are the character traits you should be exhibiting:
Be an unbearable braggart when you win: By “When you win”, I mean, when the club you support gets one over an opposing team. The victory is sweeter when your team has just secured a major win over their closest rival. A typical example would be Manchester United’s Saturday win over bitter rivals, Liverpool. You are not a true fan until you are able to milk such opportunities to the hilt. Reel out stats that favour your beloved team from centuries ago, churn out hilarious memes that capture the sorry state of your rivals, walk with a swagger throughout the week of your club’s famous victory, and generally constitute a nuisance to all and sundry. Your team won. You have earned the right to display excesses.
Hibernate or Philosophise when you lose: Nobody wins it all – these words become your mantra when the football team you support loses, (Manchester United’s unexpected exit from the UEFA Champions League succinctly is a typical example).It’s either you wax philosophical when you’re unfortunate to be on the unenviable losing side or you simply hibernate. You really don’t want to have to endure all the verbal jabs, memes, gifs, and trolls that are guaranteed to accompany your team’s loss. Especially if you have boasted before the beginning of the game, Never give those bullies a chance to see you in your vulnerable state. So if you have to take a short hiatus away from social media, do so.
Believe pundits say balderdash and coaches are ignorant: Every true fan of the round leather game can pick a hole in what the pundits say. Criticise and sweep aside their predictions and chalk their fame up to luck. As for coaches, half the time, they really are clueless about the right formation to adopt for a match. Many times, they are also blind to see that a particular player should not have made the first eleven, or another should be played in the midfield and not the attack. Wonder why these idea-deprived managers are paid humongous sums of money when they are clearly ruining the club. It doesn’t matter that they were appointed on the basis of their pedigree. You would have done a better job if they paid you even one-tenth of what the overhyped manager earns. It’s just that life isn’t fair.
Sharpen your trolling skills: The modern day die-hard fan is active on social media. Or where exactly are you supposed to gloat over your rivals when your team whoops them? Social media is the place to taunt fans of the opposing team. Recall that time your team lost too and how they almost made you consider closing your Twitter account? Now, it’s your time to pay them back, so, master the skill of trolling. Troll the fans, troll their manager, troll something about their history, troll their flat-footed keeper, troll their lazy striker, troll their most expensive buy. Until you learn to troll, you aren’t really a football fan.
Bring football into every conversation: Live football. Eat football. Breathe football. Unless you love the game that much, you are still a learner. For instance, you may be having a strategy session about how to win a pitch your organisation is vying for. Now, if your organisation has not won any pitch for a while, you may decide to liken your ordeal to that of Arsenal who haven’t won a Premier League trophy in well over a decade. Your best employee could be likened to Messi, while a particularly cunning agent or contractor can be compared to an Ashley Young, for instance, who has a reputation for simulation. If football does not permeate every aspect of your life, then you don’t exactly qualify to be regarded as a true fan.