Today the Global Gooner Passion series takes us from Nigeria, Africa to The Lebanon. I am delighted to welcome Daniel Baz, a 24 year old Arsenal fan from .Beirut Daniel was born in Orlando, Florida but grew up and now resides in the once war torn city of .Beirut He has a degree in Business Marketing and is currently studying for a FIFA Sports Management Certificate. You can follow Daniel on twitter @Dani14Baz and here he is……………..
It all started when I was about eight years old watching Netherlands vs. Brazil at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. I was amazed by the Orange color the Dutch wore, it was so different and yet so attractive. Both my uncles kept telling me about the great Johan Cruyff and the idea of football laid by Rinus Michels aka Total Football.
The idea of watching football grew on me and I started watching more frequently, and it was one of those days where I noticed a certain player wearing the number 10 in a red and white jersey. I knew I had seen the guy couple times before, and then it came to me that it was the Dutch player I watched at the 1998 World Cup, Dennis Bergkamp. The team he played for, Arsenal, and the stadium, Highbury caught my eye. They were different, kind of like the orange jersey I so much admired and learnt to respect.
During the years I kept on following the club from Premier League to Champions League, and with that came Thierry Henry, then the 2002 title at Old Trafford vs. Manchester United, the team my father and I hated so much (him being a Liverpool fan) and the ‘Invincibles.’ The way Arsenal swept teams aside so easily, playing attractive yet simple football just fascinated me.
Then came my first ever visit to London. We were on a family trip in Italy when my Dad surprised me and said we were going to London for a couple of days. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to go visit the Emirates Stadium.
When we arrived, I fell in love with London. Maybe it was because I was getting close to seeing my beloved Arsenal in real life for the first time. Maybe it was because when I was young I used to watch “Bend it Like Beckham” with my sister almost every other day and I used to imagine myself living in London watching Arsenal every single time.
The game we watched was Arsenal vs. Everton and it was probably one of the best days of my life. Luckily we won 1-0 that day with a late goal from Nicklas Bendtner and I got to see the reaction of the fans when a goal is scored at the Emirates. It was my first and only time, but I am definitely planning on doing it again very soon.
I usually watch Arsenal’s games at home, where I can concentrate on each and every player. At times, I go watch games at a local pub where most of the official Arsenal Supporters meet – The Celtic Sports Bar, Monot Street. Arsenal Lebanon are recognised by the club and have about 150 members.
If you are ever in Beirut when AFC are playing
Arsenal fans in Lebanon and the Middle East are a minority, as most people are Manchester United, Barcelona or Real Madrid fans. So being an Arsenal fan is tough, we get a lot of stick from others who randomly ask: “why support Arsenal? Of all teams why them?”
It’s sad they didn’t notice the magical moments Arsenal created throughout the years. The attractive/exciting football they showcase, the way they do their business compared to others along with the classiness of both Arsene Wenger and the players associated.
I wasn’t taught or influenced to love Arsenal, it was just love at first sight.
That is why I fell in love with Arsenal Football Club, and that is why I will forever be, a Gooner…
Wonderful Daniel who you may hear more from over on my sister site Gunners Town in the coming months. @Dani14Baz
If you wish to tell your fellow fans about your passion for Arsenal and your journey to Goonerdom please contact me. Thanks Dave
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