Welcome to the fourth leg of this summer’s Global Gooner Passion tour 2013. Having strangely had all 3 stops in Europe so far, I am delighted today that we travelling further afield. We are in the company of Aarony Zade a fanatical Arsenal supporter and occasional blogger from Bangladesh and this is a wonderful story……
GD66 -Before we get in to the meat of the interview perhaps Aarony you could tell us a little bit about yourself?
AZ – First and foremost, very humble to be able to take part in this. I am as one of our more “conservative” fans wing would say fickle international fans that does not have a connection with the club since my roots are not there. I hope watching the Asia Tours through out this summer helped change their minds a bit. I’ve been an Arsenal fan since I was seven years old when I saw the parade in North London in 1998. I’ve moved back from the UK but that tide of red and white left a mark on me and everything I’ve learned on football are courtesy of Tony Adams. Apart from my seldom written blog I’ve worked as a football writer here for a newspaper and currently work as a sub-editor and feature writer. Of course, focusing on football.
GD66 – To give us some background could to tell us how popular football is in Bangladesh and in particular the Premier League of indeed other top European Leagues?
AZ – This country breaths cricket and until recently football fever would only come around during the World Cups. Lucky for me it has changed so much. The Premier League is the best marketed league in the world, no doubt. Thus its impact has been huge. Cricket still remains number one but more are leaning towards football. My dad used to tell me how Liverpool used to dominate in the 80’s and he used to listen to commentary over his transistor, local football used to be MASSIVE here in the early 90’s, our fans were on par with the eastern European ultra nutters. No tifos or flares, but fans would be thrown from one tier to another. Almost makes me feel I was born too late. Our local games barely hold 5000 fans at best. While the local scene is tragic, the crowd here embraced European football like no other. It developed so much in the last 10 years.
GD66 – Is it easy to watch football over there on television?
AZ – It is and it is not. We do get 3 or four channels that cover football from England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France, but nothing beyond that. If it is a lower league game, you better have a really good internet connection to stream it. My brother is a Newcastle United fan and the year they spent in Championship was horror for him not just because of his club’s situation but the fact that he had to stream sub-par low resolution videos. Some of the Capital One cup matches and FA cup matches do not get broadcasted. I know lots of Goners who missed out on our 7-5 thriller at Majeski. Genuinely feel sorry for them.
GD66 – If there is a growing following of the Premier League in Bangladesh, how far back does it go and where do Arsenal rank alongside the other big clubs?
AZ – It would go back to 2000-2002. I can’t think of many of my fellow football aficionados who can recall the Euro 2000s but we started getting league games right after that Euro. World Cup is something everyone in Bangladesh would follow but I think the major turning point was 2004. We got to witness a golden generation at its prime and the demand rose; we wanted to watch them beyond their country duties. The thirst for club football spread after that.
I think every international fan can relate to this one, the majority of football supporters here are of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Kind of sad but makes sense given their domination, (am I calling them glory hunters subtly? Don’t read into it too much!) in their particular leagues and in Europe over the last few years. I once had a discussion with a United fan that for every 25 proper Man Utd fans, there’s one Arsenal supporter. Sad but true, it takes a lot of determination to ride out the storm we have been riding out. Some doesn’t cut.
GD66 -So now on to you, Aarony the Arsenal fan. Can you recall and describe how your own love affair with Arsenal began?
AZ – It is a pretty beautiful story actually. I fell in love with my club in the summer of 1998 when we won the double. My parents left me with my 17 year old cousin and went out for dinner. My cousin, like any responsible teenage babysitter, took me to the tube station and before I knew it I was drowning in a sea of horrendously loud people. My English was not anywhere near fluent and I couldn’t understand much apart from a few repeating words. Before I had a chance to suffocate, my cousin’s mate placed me on his shoulder and I had a view. My vision was splashed with a sea of red and white and I could see a bus approaching, cops holding on to the barricades hard, and instantly my inside voice went “I AM GOING TO SEE THE QUEEN!”. That’s what England was for a 6 year old; the royal family and Enid Blyton.
While some chanted and some stared with awe, I had a glimpse of a man with magnificent godlike nose. That’s all that was to it and we were home nice and early before the parents returned. While my cousin and I ate the takeaway our parents brought back for us whilst watching the news, the man with the nose came on screen for a few seconds and without any further thought the words came out “I saw him today on that bus, is he famous?”
I don’t know whether my cousin was grounded after that but he made me witness Tony Adams. The rest is history.
GD66 – Is there and official Arsenal Supporters Club in Bangladesh or perhaps unofficial groups?
AZ – There is an unofficial one that 2 of my friends and I work with. A very optimistic bunch too. Priom Munasir (@PriomAFC), Shams Ud Dowla (@shams_arsenal) and I usually run it but I’m swamped with work most of the time so they are the main musketeers. We have a Facebook page you can check out: https://www.facebook.com/ArsenalFCBangladesh
GD66 – Do you meet for events and to watch matches together?
Of course! Always for the massive matches or the last game of the season. It’s Ramadan now so we will hold an Iftar together just to discuss ideas about running our club, why we haven’t signed a striker yet and more importantly get to know each other better.
GD66 – Is there one player in your time supporting Arsenal that is your personal favourite or perhaps there is more than one? Perhaps also tell us why?
Let’s get this clear. I’d kiss the ground Robert Pires would walk on. I got my first tattoo when I was 14 and it was to honour him, a little 7 on my wrist. I think my understanding of beautiful football came from watching Pires, Bergkamp and Henry. Absolutely miss that midfield. It’s no secret that I’m an ardent fan of our Czech Maestro Tomas Rosicky, I say if he can give us one full season we won’t have to worry about our midfield losing its grace.
GD66 – What has been the stand out moment or moments for you since you have followed Arsenal?
Watching the Champions League final is the most painful moment of my life and what was worse is letting Robert Pires go right after that. I think that night ended my childhood and I started to take football even more seriously.
GD66 – There is so much speculation at the moment but is there any particular signing/s you would like to see this summer ahead of the new season?
I’d go with the popular opinion and would love a striker. I feel we need a ruthless finisher who would giver Giroud a run for his place. When you look at the bench of Bayern Munich and how much options they have it makes me want to weep. We beat them for fucks sake! While many might not agree I would like a defensive midfielder too. I don’t think Arteta will continue to cope with playing that role as it is not natural for him.
GD66 – What are you hopes/aspirations for Arsenal for 2013/14?
The title please. I know Chelsea just got Jose back and ManchesterCity won’t close their purse but they tend to slip and Manchester United have a massive transition period ahead. I think this is our chance. If we make the right signings, mind you we just need 3-4 players at max; we could definitely go all the way.
GD66 – Would you like to have more Gunners around the world follow you on twitter?
Haha! Always happy to amuse more people with my outbursts.
GD66 – Would you like to write a guest blog for my sister site www.gunnerstown.com?
Do bears shit in woods? Bien sur!
Well I look forward to that then!
Thanks Aarony for taking the time to give such a wonderful interview and sharing your own journey into Goonerdom and how it is to be an Arsenal supporter in Bangladesh.
Don’t forget to follow @AaronyZade
Supporting Arsenal anywhere in the world and would like to tell your story please get in touch
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