''I feel at home at Legia''
Anthony came to Poland to be with his girlfriend. - I was young and stupid - he laughs. - We’re not together anymore, but I got a ticket for the Legia - Lech Polish Cup Final match at the National Stadium in May. I only knew Legia earlier through match highlights that I watched online. Watching the atmosphere created by the fans, I wanted to be a part of it and watch from the stands. After the Final, I fell in love immediately, it was amazing! - he recalls.
- I remember that I didn’t have any white shirts, but I knew that I would need one. I only had a Liverpool shirt, because I supported them in England, but I knew that going to the final in it would not be a good idea (laugh). So I went to the FanStore and quickly bought the shirt - explains Anthony.
The match day was, from the start, an experience completely different from what he could have seen in England. - I remember how before the game, I arrived to the stadium with her cousin at Łazienkowska, so we could cross Poniatowski Bridge to the National Stadium. That atmosphere, constant chants - even when it’s not going well on the pitch, we’re singing; actually that’s when we sing even louder, so we can help the players. Legia fans are completely dedicated. It’s admirable - raves Anthony. - In England, there’s nothing like it. There, the fans only sit. Every ten minutes they might sing something, or shout and celebrate when someone scores - he adds.
His friends from England have mixed reactions to the fact that he supports Legia. Some find it weird. - At one of the matches, my friend took a picture of me and put it on Facebook. My oldest friend from England saw it and asked “Why do you go to Legia games? They don’t even play in the Champion’s League.” - Anthony takes a deep breath. - I went straight on to YouTube and sent him a few videos of the “Żyleta”. A few minutes later he replied “Oh my god, I have to go there!” (laugh).
- Another friend of mine has already been to a Legia match. It was the game against FC Zorya Luhansk, which was to decide the advance to the group stages of the Europa League. We were sat at the Żyleta, upstairs. My friend’s a soldier, and he was terrified (laugh). Watching everyone singing and jumping... Afterwards he said: “I didn’t know that this is how Poles support football, I have to come back!”.
We asked if Anthony would call himself an ambassador of Legia for his friends from England and with other foreigners, with which he has contact. - I think you could say that. I’m always showing my friends how amazing it is here. I study at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, where I volunteer for Erasmus Student Network (student exchange program - edit) and I try to bring as many people to the stadium as I can, to show them what football really should look like. I recently organised a small trip with Erasmus students to go to the match with Śląsk Wrocław - he explains.
Anthony came to #Ł3 for the first time in August. He has a season ticket at the Żyleta. - Now I come to every match, not reliant on if we’re playing in the Ekstraklasa, Polish Cup or the Europa League - he says. - If you buy a season ticket and obligate yourself to come to every match, you do that for something more than a bit of entertainment and 90 minutes in a chair. That’s why I go to Żyleta - I want to feel that I’m doing something more, that I’m supporting the team, that I’m with them all the time. That’s my place in the stadium, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else - he smiles.
Anthony speaks good Polish. But does he know our language that well, that he can sing during a match? - Of course I sing! I know all the Legia songs, but sometimes I have problems with the songs against specific teams - he ensures with a smile. - At Legia, nobody has caught onto the fact that I’m from England, even though when I sing, I have a very heavy accent - he adds.
He also guarantees that Legia is something more than just a bit of fun for him. - At Łazienkowska I feel at home. Everyone is here for the same reason, so I can talk with anyone and make new friends at the stadium. I recently met Bartek and Julia, we started to talk after the match - he says.
At the end of our conversation, we asked him if there’s anything he would like to add. What Anthony says next, made a colossal expression. - I want to thank everyone from the Żyleta that I don’t feel foreign. It doesn’t matter that I’m from England. It only matters that I’m there for the same reason as everyone else. We’re like one big brotherhood - that’s why at Łazienkowska I feel at home. I’m proud to wear these colours - proud of the history and the reputation of this club.
|Follow @LegiaWarszawa||Legia Warszawa