Thursday, October 08, 2009

Where, oh where, has the fooligan gone?

What up? Que Pasa? Como vai?

Hmmm . . . It has been almost 1 year since I last blogged. There is a reason for that . . . the fooligan left the building. Well, the fooligan is back. Not really back, but at least back on the blog.

After going to every single qualifier in 2008 and a couple friendlies to boot, I dropped my plans to make it to every qualifier in a cycle. I have only been to one match this year! You know it, it was Azteca.

So what happened? Well, I left my job in New York and decided to pursue a passion . . . which predictably involves soccer. I returned to the classroom in pursuit of an LL.M in International Sports Law in Madrid, Spain. Leaving my life was a shock to the senses, as was leaving so many friends behind. However, it created the opportunity to make new friends from all over the world and to gain another perspective during this period of "change."

It also offered the opportunity to take the fooligan show on the road. A group of classmates and I were able to purchase an abono (pass) for the remainder of the temporada (season) for Atlético de Madrid. Not only was this great value (130 euros for 10 matches), but we were able to see some amazing matches - Atléti-Barca, Atléti-Valencia, Atléti-Villareal . . .

What made it extra-special was the amazing and exhillirating play of el uruguayo, Diego Forlán. Despite doing Liverpool for 2 goals when he was with the scum, Forlán, is one of my favorite players of all time because he is a constant threat and runs his ass off. You never see him taking a dive and he is more than willing to track back when needed. The combination of Forlán and Kun Agüero along with Atléti's incompetent defending ensured that each match was a nail-biter. The amazing atmosphere at the Vicente Calderón has inspired a true bond between me and the colchoneros.

While in Madrid, I also took the opportunity to see Real Madrid play at home thrice (though, stupidly, I was too cheap to spring for the stunner when Liverpool knocked off Real at home thanks to Yossi Benayoun's improbable header). The Kuschman and I took in the crosstown derby which saw Atléti cruelly be held to a draw (1-1). Kuschman and I then waited in line for 5 hours to get tickets to El Clásico in which Barcelona delivered one of the most dominating performances I have ever seen when they knocked off Real 6-2. Finally, Diane, Beth and I took in the 3-1 thrashing delivered at the hands of Mallorca which saw Cléber expose everything that was wrong with Real with a ridiculous golazo.

All in all, Real were terrible and their fans were worse. A bunch of fickle whiners who seemed more akin to Atlanta Braves fans (sorry Lloyd) than futbol fans. Atléti on the other hand offered up some exciting futbol and the fans are top class. The highlight for me was during the match against Barca and every single person in the Calderón was chanting "Muerta Dani, Muerta!" (Die Dani, Die) after Dani Alves exaggerated an injury.

We also got to see Spain take on Turkey in a World Cup Qualifier. 15 Euros for a great seat in the Santiago Bernabeu. How much are tickets to our WCQs again?

Anyway, my time in Spain was amazing and unforgettable. After being there for 6 months, I returned to the US and moved to Chicago for a couple months. Great city in the summer (I'll withhold my comments about the rest of the year).

I also got to make the trek down to Azteca with my Dad, which was an amazing experience that is worthy of its own post entirely (coming tomorrow, I swear, already have it written - just want to add some photos).

Now, I am working and living down in Rio de Janeiro. I know, I am one lucky sonofabitch. I love it here. Estou aprendendo portugués e surfar tambem. (I'm learning portuguese and how to surf). Moro quatro quadras da praia no Leblon. (I live 4 blocks from the beach in Leblon) The scenery is amazing and inspiring everyday. When I run on the beach, I run right past the canal that flows through the Jardim da Allah and have a ridiculous view of Corcovado and Cristo.

The other day, I went to the Maracanã for the Flamengo-Fluminense match and that is what really inspired me to revive this blog. The atmosphere there was the best I have ever witnessed and it got me thinking, hey, I am still fooliganing it up, why not keep blogging. Anyway, I will put up a short post on this as well with pictures and some videos.

The match at Maracanã got me thinking though. In 2009, I will have been inside the Vicente Calderón, the Santiago Bernabeu, the Camp Nou, the Azteca, the Maracaná, and in 10 days, the Bombanera. That is 6 veritable temples of football in one year. Yes, the fooligan in me is alive and well.

More to come . . . but, my blog is back!

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