Why DDR?, I asked.
Instead of the answer, I will copy here a few verses from Ahmed’s book The God of Transition. The poem is called “Ulf Kirsten, a star man” (the star here is a five pointed one, symbol of the revolution) and it’s obviously about the legendary player from East Germany who would raise his arms and spread legs making it look like a star after scoring a goal. After the Wall was brought down, Ulf played for re-unified Germany, hundred caps in total: 49 for the East, 51 for what came after.
When he came out to play in that white Germany shirt with Bundesadler on his heart
Instead of blue one with the sickle and hammer and DDR sign
Nothing was the same anymore.
We were not the same; the Europe was not the same
Only Ulf, firm on strong legs, suggested we can survive
And still score a goal.
Talking football with Ahmed, a Bosnian journalist, poet and great friend, is bit of a festival that requires special skills. Even if you consider yourself an expert, you will still be just a mere listener. Your knowledge is void, your observations shallow, your predictions pointless. Anything else you think you know – better keep it for yourself, open your heart and listen to Ahmed. He is a football encyclopedia filled with facts, emotions and hard to control passion. Watching matches with him, our routine for many years, is a rare pleasure in which I’m not sure what’s more important and entertaining – what is happening on screen or in front of it.
Ahmed, just like every real lover of the game, cheers for not only one team. Teams Ahmed loves, and whose jerseys he wears, have to be very special, just as he is special – a combination of power, knowledge and charm but above everything with often irrational and seductive moves of a genius underdog who came from nowhere to play against big powers. In his own team Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Miles Davis would be creators, Hendrix striker no matter the result. The final score is important but the game Ahmed plays is above everything.
I will be going to Brazil for the World Cup soon, to take pictures and enjoy the tournament. That is great and I’m humbly thankful to all gods involved in making it happen. But, what makes me even happier is that my beloved friend Ahmed will be there, to follow the tournament and dribble with verses about it. If you ever come across his byline or meet him in person, stop and listen what he has to say – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Why Liverpool? I asked.
“My uncle is responsible.”
I talked to Andy in front of 11th Street bar after Liverpool’s game, and a few beers, so I’m not sure I remember his exact words. But an uncle had something to do with him falling for Liverpool and not some other club. Andy came to live in New York City not long ago. He is from a town somewhere in the English south. He, definitely, is responsible for Tanya becoming Liverpool fan.
Why Arsenal? I asked.
“I’ve been an Arsenal fan since just before my 17th birthday. My high school soccer team went to England for a pre-season and our coach got us tickets to a game while we were in London. I don’t know how he chose Arsenal, but I’m pretty sure that it was the opening game of the season at Highbury. This was before the Premier League, but Arsenal were still in the top flight. I don’t recall the game very well, except for being impressed by David Rocastle. Mainly what I remember was standing on the crumbling terraces behind the goal and understanding why there were stadium safety issues. It was terrifying, especially squeezing out of the too-small-for-Americans turnstiles onto a street full of mounted policemen in riot gear, but also exhilarating.
I’m pretty sure that it was the first game of the season, which I think is also mentioned in Fever Pitch, because the next home game that year was a 6-0 and I definitely would have remembered 6 goals. I had to look up this up, as well as Arsenal’s opponent that day; the internet tells me it was Liverpool and that they won 2-1. I guess If I had chosen my team based on performance I would be a Liverpool fan.
Why Liverpool? I asked.
“I started dating Andy who is a passionate Liverpool fan and that was it.”
Finally, it looks as if the long winter is over. We can expect a great football year ahead with exciting finales in a few European leagues as well as the World Cup.
This weekend I was in New York City. I went to watch West Ham – Liverpool match at the 11th Street Bar which is home to Liverpool’s Supporters Club in New York. There I met Tanya. She is not the first person on this blog who fell in love with a club through their love for another person. With the amount of love in this post there could be no better way to kick-off a new season here. Enjoy it and spread the word that Footballists are back.