Being a foreign fan, I didn’t “inherit” my love for the club from my dad or any other relative for that matter like many of the local fans did. My love started with my favourite player at the time, Fredrik Ljungberg, getting picked up by Arsene Wenger in the summer of 98. I was twelve years old and football was my everything. If I wasn’t playing it at my local club I played it with the kids in the neighborhood or alone in my back garden. Besides from the local top club Helsingborgs IF (Henrik Larssons Swedish club) most of the kids I hung out with back then supported Manchester United. I never did though. There was something off about that club, some sort of smugness which made me dislike them. When Ljungberg then was bought by Arsenal I started to take an interest in the club. I was too young to appreciate Limpar’s time at Arsenal but when Ljungberg arrived everything fell into place. When he came on to make his debut against Manure and scored that goal lobbing Schmeichel I was sold.
From that day my club was the Arsenal. Seeing as we didn’t have the proper channels at home I couldn’t really follow the club in any other way than reading the results in the newspaper, hoping the sports newscast would show some highlights from the games.
It wasn’t until I graduated high school and got my first real job (this was in 2005) I could afford to sign up with Canal +, who at that time owned the rights to the Premier League in Sweden. Being able to watch every game the Arsenal played made my love for the club grow bigger and I felt I had to go over to London and watch a game before the move to the Emirates would happen in 06 and our beloved Highbury would be no more.
My dream finally came true when my sister, who worked as an au pair at the time for a family in London, called me and said that for my 20th birthday she had gotten a hold of 2 tickets to see the Arsenal vs West Brom on april 14th 2006. All I had to do was book the flight over and she would fix the rest.
The game itself was an amazing experience for me. The walk to Highbury from the tube with loads of fans singing and the stadium just emerging from out of nowhere. The atmosphere was just sublime and I had never experienced something like that ever before. Having the whole ground singing and making noise and to top the day of my favorite Arsenal player, Dennis Bergkamp sealed the victory with a brilliant free kick making the end result 3-1 to the Arsenal.
From that day I’ve hardly missed a game and even though I’m far away I still feel very close to the club and am very proud of its history and traditions.
Up The Arsenal!