Why City? I asked.
“I was visiting England in 2005. I liked Rooney a lot and liked United. But, while I was in Manchester, it was City that played the season home opener (vs. West Bromwich) and I went to see the game. It was a terrible one, scoreless. But, I came back home Manchester City fan.”
I don’t go to Starbucks often but I spotted the shirt inside and decided to walk in. Born in Canada, in Ottawa, to English parents, Rob is a life-long soccer fan. He lived in Montreal for a number of years but not anymore. Currently he lives and works as transport engineer in Abu Dhabi. After I got back home I looked up the City team (finished the season at 15th place) that played in that game vs. West Bromwich (relegated): Vassell, Sinclair, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Barton, Claudio Reyna, Danny Mills, Sibierski, Musampa, Andrew Cole, David Sommeil, Ben Thatcher, etc… Well, it must have been a great atmosphere at the stadium to win Rob’s heart because I doubt this City team could do it.
Why Colombia? I asked.
Tom was born in Canada after his parents came from Hungary. He speaks fluent Hungarian and we had a nice chat (not in Hungarian) about second generation immigrants and languages here in Montreal. But, it was his girlfriend who turned him into a soccer fan. We agreed that Colombia has a very good team and had a nice showing at the last year’s World Cup. Tom is an artist doing illustrations, paintings and drawings.
As I write this it’s halftime at the Women’s World Cup game between France and Colombia. Colombia is leading 1:0 and I imagine Tom and his girlfriend having a good time watching the game.
Why Barca? I asked.
“I hate Barcelona. My club is Chelsea.”
In front of a local carwash, this Labour day early morning, John and his two colleagues were waiting for the first customers to arrive. As I passed by I just said “Nice shirt” with my thumbs up. “No, not really.” he replied to my surprise. After he told me that Chelsea is his team I asked, obviously, why Chelsea. “Anybody can play in Chelsea… black, white, you can be green, anybody. Not in Barcelona.” He got this jersey from someone as a gift.
John’s been living in Montreal for a few years now. He comes from South Africa.
Why Ecuador? I asked.
“And I’m not even from Ecuador… I got it as a gift a few years ago.”
The rain had just started and I only had my phone on me (‘the best camera is the one you have with you’ as someone famously said) but I decided to stop Camil anyway. He grew up in Montreal but his parents come from France and Morocco. He supported France in the World Cup. I sensed his sympathy for Spain as well as he claimed that ‘Spain will bounce back’.
Camil then asked me how did Liverpool play earlier in the day since we met a couple of hours after LFC match with Tottenham. It gave me much pleasure to report the score and a nice Balotelli debut. As we parted, just a block further into my walk, I ran into an advertising display at the local bus station. There was Mario Balotelli, larger then life, unreal, in this hockey city. This unexpected encounter must be a good omen for the season to come.
Why Argentina? I asked.
“I have many friends that are from Argentina.”
I walked into a store and there was Yanick, working. He was kind enough to step outside so I can photograph him. Yanick is from Montreal but has a strong connection with South America, his girlfriend is from Peru. Along the way he befriended a few Argentinians and started following their national team. Our chat was brief since he had to go back to work and I needed to go and get some flowers.
Why Stoke City? I asked.
“I like Stoke.”
Then, after I insisted on more, he added “I like them all (teams), I like football.” Which explains it all. It was the first time I met someone wearing the Potters‘ jersey and I was trilled. Koffi and his family arrived to Montreal, from Ivory Coast, only two months ago. I quickly reminded him how Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Ivory Coast just a couple of days earlier in a friendly warmup match before the WC. He wasn’t concerned.
Why Marseille? I asked.
“Always, always, from when I was a kid, always only Olympique de Marseille!”
Frederic didn’t mind the rain and was happy to show his colours for the camera. He is from Togo and came to Montreal 5 years ago to study economics and is just finishing his last term. He was to young to remember his team playing Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup final in 1991 but I made sure to remind him of that match. Frederic intends to stay in Montreal – it’s a beautiful city, we agreed – and plans to work in real estate. May you sell many homes Frederic!