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From Hate to Love


I’ve read some great memories on this site which make me extremely proud to be a Gooner. Before I talk about my Arsenal journey I want to let you know that my childhood was probably very different from many of yours.

Growing up in Nigeria, I never had a traditional family initiation into a football club. My only contact with the game was being bullied by my six brothers into playing goalkeeper whenever they had a kickabout.

I first came across Arsenal after Kanu moved to Highbury. I couldn’t understand his passion and commitment to a club that seemed to keep him away from us, his compatriots, and the Nigerian national team. I felt he needed to be more patriotic. Even when the Gunners paid for his open-heart surgery I still didn’t understand. Looking back now I feel childish about the way I reacted, but I just didn’t understand.

So how did I come to love the Gunners? Well, I have Thierry Henry to thank for that. Yes, I’m a Titi recruit. He was my first ever celebrity crush and I loved his charisma on and off the field. I decided to give Arsenal a place in my heart and I’ve never looked back. Over time I began to understand what it means to passionately support a club. 

I moved to Ireland a couple of years back knowing it was my chance to get closer to Arsenal. Finally the opportunity to visit the Emirates presented itself thanks to those gorgeous lads in the picture above who I am privileged to call my friends. It was the 2009 Emirates Cup and from the moment I left Dublin airport I was giddy with excitement. I was like a child visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, Disneyland and a huge toy store all in one.

When Elvis’ ‘The Wonder of You,’ played over the loud speakers the feeling was sensational – I still melt whenever I hear that song. I thought I’d missed my chance to see an ‘Invincible’ in the flesh, so I was in awe when I spotted Robert Pires. On the pitch Jack Wilshere was truly sensational, while Eboue was, as you might expect, his usual hilarious self, trying to chat up the Emirates Airline hostesses.

I’m currently saving to pay my way through college so I can get a proper degree which will help me get a better job which in turn will help me afford more tickets. I can’t wait for the day I have my own season ticket. Arsenal is a huge part of my life now and I look forward to one day having a family so that I can pass on the traditions of the club to another generation. Thankfully, my fiancé is a Gooner - I’d have it no other way!

Reader Comments (1)

Kanu's heart surgery was done in 1996, over 2 years before he joined The Arsenal. The surgery was not sponsored by the club.

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBari Yu
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