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Something Stuck With Me

BY ABHIJITH G / @arsenalmediawatch

I woke up on the morning of May 17th, 2006 to read in the newspapers that Arsenal was playing Barcelona in the final of the UEFA Champions League. I confess I was not a big football fan till then.

I had played football regularly at college but had watched only two football matches in my life up to that point: the first was the 1998 World Cup final between France and Brazil and the second was England versus France in Euro 2004. This Champions League match caught my eye as I had heard a lot about Ronaldinho, Barcelona and some bloke called Messi. I knew very little about Arsenal except Thierry Henry’s name also rang a bell somewhere. Anyway, I thought I should watch this match to see what the hype about Barca was all about.

I must confess that I have not referred to any archives to write this article except for the date of the match. As such the description is entirely from memory and might not be entirely accurate. I vaguely rememver that it was scheduled to kickoff around midnight, although I tuned in early to watch the build-up and how each side had made it to the final.

I particularly remember Arsene celebrating Lehmann’s penalty save from Juan Riquelme in the semi-finals and couldn’t help but smile at his reaction. Anyway, on to the match now (which I had the urge to turn off because the reception got worse by the minute).

The first incident I remember was Jens Lehmann’s infamous sending off after he’d fouled Eto’o. It really didn’t bother me much as I thought Barca would win anyway. Robert Pires was substituted for someone and I could read the disappointment in his face. Arsenal battled hard after that and took the lead via Sol Campbell just before the conclusion of the first half.

At the break, I thought justice would be done if Arsenal went on to win. However, football just doesn’t care about justice sometimes. Arsenal battled manfully in the second half only to be breached by two late Barcelona goals (I hate Barca so I won’t bother remembering who scored). At full time, I remembered Arsene’s crestfallen face and Henry’s furious tirade at the referee.

I really don’t know what happened but something about Arsenal struck me that night and that was when I started following them (and hence football) more closely and its been a roller coaster ride since then.

Is it love at first sight? I think so. Unlike many of the Arsenal fans, I have never seen Arsenal taste success in the form of trophies. I confess I tried supporting other clubs initially in 2006 (definitely wasn’t Spurs) but simply couldn’t. There is a saying that the club chooses you and not the other way around. In retrospect, I am glad I fell in love with Arsenal and have supported it with all my heart despite the trophyless years. No matter what happens this season, I will support the club for the rest of my life.

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    [...]The Arsenal Collective - A Home for Memories of The Arsenal - The Memory Bank - Something Stuck With Me[...]

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