Why Greece? I asked.
“My family is Greek and I got the shirt when I visited Greece after they had won European Championship.”
Yes, Greece’d won the Euro, still hard to believe it. No matter what tactics they used to get there, not always a joy to watch, it is an admirable thing. Sam is a great kid, born in Montreal, but proudly shares his origins. He’s been a frequent guest in our home, a great company. Grčka (Greece, as it is called in Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian) appears even more mythical when called in one of these South Slavic languages. Go Grčka!
Why City? I asked.
“That is my name on the back of the shirt.”
I was watching Sean from the other side of the street as he was about to walk into McDonalds. Thankfully he changed his mind and started walking down St. Catherine. I ran across and caught him as he was crossing Guy. Sean Silva was born in Montreal. His parents come from India and Portugal. His favourite player is David Silva and he likes Manchester City because of their motivation and determination to go to the top right away. That is exactly why many others don’t like Manchester City. But David Silva is a great player, no one can deny. Sean also plays football, triple A (AAA) level. North Americans understand the code. To clarify for others, this means Sean is a very good player too.
Why Juventus? I asked.
“That was the very first club I watched as a child and I fell in love with it.”
Elie could consider himself lucky, the first team he watched could have been Lazio. I was wondering where are the Italians. It’s been more than a month I’ve been doing this and I haven’t seen a single Italian shirt. Then Elie showed up. My first ‘Italian’ is actually from Lebanon. From distance I couldn’t be sure if it was Juventus or Udinese shirt coming my way. I admit there is something seductive about stripes, perhaps it reminds me of my childhood when many more of this type of jerseys were used. This is a very nice shirt, except for the sponsor’s logo, but they are always ugly anyway.
Why England? I asked.
“I support Germany and this jersey is a gift from a friend.”
This is a very popular shirt in this city, and everywhere I’ve been in North America. Before I started this project I’d seen many England jerseys, but it took Omar to be the first to cross my path when I had camera on me. On a first couple of pictures he had a hat on and I never realized what’s hiding under it. But then he suggested to take it off. Thank you Omar. He is from Jordan, inexplicably supports German national team even though he never lived there, and wears this England shirt because a friend gave it to him as a gift. As I continue with this, the geography of football culture is getting more interesting.
Why Brasil? I asked.
“I just like Brazilian football.”
I interrupted Ahmed while he was texting, determined not to let him go without a picture. He didn’t need much convincing. Ahmed is from Egypt but he lives in Montreal, again a number of continents meet in a single football shirt. I’ve never seen a guy on the street dressed in a jersey that fits him so well. Ahmed should be modelling for the manufacturer, or for the Brazilian football association. He certainly looks much better in that shirt than Adriano, whose name is on the back of Ahmed’s shirt.
Why Fener? I asked.
“I was born in Turkey and I’m a huge Fenerbahçe fan.”
Doran was 4 when his family moved to Canada. He lives in Toronto but visits Montreal often (of course, I was thinking, it’s more fun here). He told me all of this while his friends, tough-looking but surely good at heart, were standing around and checking me out. Fenerbahçe might be banned from the Champions League this year due to the match-fixing scandal but the fans don’t bother with such details, and remain loyal.
Why Barca? I asked.
“Actually I’m a Liverpool fan, but I collect jerseys.”
It’s nice to see Barcelona shirt with, now retired, Unicef logo. Ben lives in Montreal but comes from London, England. No London club could steal his heart as he grew up with a healthy doze of John Barnes, Ian Rush and company from Liverpool. He has in his collection every England jersey he could get his hand on.