Why Porto? I asked.
“I’m of Portuguese descent.”
His parents are from Portugal. I didn’t ask him how to spell his name so I hope I did it right. Given his name, and even his looks, there has to be something Irish in the whole story. Niel is a soccer fan and, inevitably, Mourinho’s name and Porto’s European cup came into the conversation. I walked away thinking how one has to feel for the clubs (and especially the fans) who so often produce great young talent, players and managers, only to lose them to the filthy rich.
Why Barcelona? I asked.
He is a huge fan of Spanish football. And with a reason. Spain currently holds European championship at U-19, U-21 and also, as everyone knows now, Spain is the Champion of Europe. I met Didier a few days before the finals and he knew even then. He had no doubts that Spain will win, again. Didier was born in Montreal and still lives here. His parents came form Belgium and Haiti. During our short meeting, his enthusiasm for the shirt he was wearing, his good looks and the body language as he spoke about Barcelona reminded me of this commercial. Meeting Didier was fun.
Why Germany? I asked.
“I am German.”
This was an arranged meeting since I first met Gunnar when he was living here as an exchange student in 2008. Back then he was in Photography program at Concordia University but now is back in Munich and works in IT industry. Now he’s just visiting Montreal and we met for a drink. He is very proud, not only of the German football team in the last few years (and they are really good), but of Germany as a whole. It is not always easy, Gunnar says, to wear this shirt when not in Germany, though that’s changing too. Earlier in June I was in transit through Düsseldorf the day Germany played Denmark at the Euro. After the most memorable breakfast that early Sunday morning (see picture below) the young Germans started to fill the streets wearing their national team jerseys. I couldn’t stay to witness their joy after the win because it was time to go back to the airport and catch a flight out of the country.
Why Liverpool? I asked.
“I had a hefty dose of John Barnes as I was growing up in England.”
Only after I started talking to, and taking pictures of, Ben I realized we had met before. Only, at that time, he was wearing Barcelona shirt. These are his true colours though. He was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in London, England and studies at the Molson School of Business here in Montreal.
Why Portugal? I asked.
“I went to visit Portugal. It’s a beautiful place.”
I noticed Patrick driving by and then stopping at the local gas station. I walked back and approached him. Patrick doesn’t follow soccer much. He is simply too busy, he says; artist, musician, rapper, all around party organizer. A few years back he visited Boom Festival in Idanha-a-Nova and had a fantastic time, fell in love with the place. He doesn’t remember when he got his jersey but since he has a few friends in Montreal who are Portuguese, they must played part in the decision. Patrick was born in Gatineau, Quebec and that makes him one of the very few born Quebecers I encountered wearing soccer shirts. But with Montreal Impact in MLS now, the numbers are growing.
Why Spain? I asked.
“My parents are from Spain.”
I met Juan Pablo two days before the Euro 2012 finals. He was born in Columbia but lives in Montreal. His parents are from Spain and he has family in Columbia and Peru. Juan Pablo was very confident Spain would win the Euro, and with a good reason now we know. I never asked him why was he hanging around Victoria Square. Perhaps to bring his chosen team some luck? Perhaps not. Spanish players didn’t need it though. They won it in style. There never was any doubt, during the game, that it could be any different.