Okay so today the Global Gooner Passion series arrived in Finland in the form of an interview similar to that I did with Anna Lvova in 2012 when this all began. The Gunner who is the subject of the questions is Bureemi Mohamed know tomany of us from twitter and the Tollington as ’Bee.’ After reading this if you don’t follow her yet you will of that I am certain @bureemi
GD66 – Bee welcome to 1ND2OU and the third year of Global Gooner Passion!
First of all I want to thank you Dave for this great opportunity to share my love for the greatest club the world has ever seen. And for the chance to tell my story. Secondly I want to share a great quote from a friend of mine. “Arsenal to the bone…I bleed red and white. Blood type: #AFC. Always remember, never forget, that the cannon on the chest is more important than anybody.”
GD66 – Firstly can we get a feel for the popularity of the Premier League in Finland. Do most of the games get televised and do most Finnish football fans have an English team as well as a local side?
BM – Here in Finland, our nation is mostly known for the passionate Ice Hockey support and football only manages to make second. But with due progress, the game (football) too has left a permanent mark here. We have pay per view television channels which do actually show the English premiership and other leagues as well. The Champions League though, is shown for free once every week here; we do as well have sports pubs where we gather and watch games on a regular basis. So basically we don’t really miss a game, unless by personal choice.
Personally, I only support one team and that is THE ARSENAL!! But I do as well go to live games of my local team -HJK Helsinki- which is well known in Europe too; mostly for their attempts to qualify for the Champions League or Europa League. On this note, I do state with strong belief that a day will come when HJK will qualify for The Champions League. And when it does, we shall have a chance to see The Arsenal play in Helsinki against them. GD66- I imagine not having had a Finnish player at Arsenal in the past, Arsenal are not as well supported as say Liverpool who have had high profile Finns but I would love to be wrong?
BM – Unfortunately you are right, we’re yet to see a high profile Finnish footballer playing for Arsenal. Apart from Carl Jenkinson of course. It is an absolute pleasure to have a Finnish blood representing Arsenal. Sami Hyypiä; one of the best Finns to have played the game represented Liverpool and won the Champions League with them. A great achievement there which in honesty fills us with pride to know that a Finn did leave his mark upon English football. There exists great talents in Finland and I do believe that one day they will be making names in the Premier League, hopefully in Arsenal too. In sharing the Finnish fan base for the English Premier League; Arsenal, Liverpool and United enjoy the largest numbers in Finland.
GD – what is the affinity to Carl Jenkinson as a matter of interest?
BM – I still remember the day Arsenal announced the signing of a not well known youngster and I went all ecstatic simply for the fact that he was Finnish! Carl has family and friends here in Finland and in an interview he once said that he used to come to Finland twice a year and even spent the Christmas periods here.
He was here recently and Finnish fans did recognize him, took pictures with him and what not, really lovely stuff! He also was with the team when Arsenal came over for the final preseason tour match and you could see what it meant to him as well as to the crowd. After the final whistle he clapped the crowds traversing the entire stadium and even threw his shirt to us; the last man to depart for the dugout.
A year or so back, Carl decided to represent England on international level and of course much as I respect his decision, I really wish he had chosen to join our national team instead. Not only because the Finnish team could make use of a high profile name, but also due to the fact that he could just have seamlessly walked in at free will; a thing that won’t be the case for the English team with all the competition. So for his career’s sake I wished he had chosen to play for Suomi, Finland.
GD66 – Okay can you tell us a little about yourself? Nursing and Arsenal in that order I gather. And Bee where and when did your love affair with the Arsenal begin? Was it a particular incident, match or player?
BM – Yes, Dave. I was a little girl when I used to watch football games with my family and my first football memory is US ‘94 World Cup. As a kid, I used to play football and was a big fan of the game from the early days. Have to mention that my shirt number was 14 just like my club hero Thierry Henry’s – Talk about coincidence.
So yeah, having mentioned Titi as my big hero; I used to watch him play for France and was sold on from the moment I saw him in the world cup 1998. A year later he joined Arsenal and I fell in love with my team, and the rest as the cliché goes, is history.
Thierry Henry is my all-time favorite Arsenal player so you can imagine my JOY when we had him back at the club for a spell a couple of years ago. Of course not forgetting his comeback game and THAT goal! On his 2nd debut. Could you believe it? Basically Henry is the reason I fell in love with and watched the Arsenal games but to be honest it was just a love story written in the stars.
I can’t imagine my life without Arsenal and for me supporting Arsenal is a way of life; No day passes by without me reading Arsenal related news and checking Arsenal related videos. I work as a nurse and I always schedule my work so I can watch our games.Thanks to my really understanding colleagues who get it that I would never want anything to get between me and my ARSENAL.
This here could tell you all about my PASSION FOR THE GREATEST CLUB EVER!!
GD66 – I note there is a sanctioned fan club there http://www.arsenalfinland.net/ Are you involved with them?
BM- Yes I am involved. In fact I am a member of Arsenal Finland, a fan club for all the Finnish Gooners and it helps the fans to get tickets to matches. Arsenal Finland does get match ticket allocations from the Official club, making it somewhat easier for Finnish fans to get involved in cheering on the club whenever they are able to. Not only this, the club’s outreach has really been immensely impressive in making us feel a part of the club. Take for instance when we made it to Wembley for the FA Cup final; the club did ship flyers to Helsinki to enable us show our support even from miles afar, I honestly doubt many teams do this.
GD66 – If so do they organize gatherings to watch games with like-minded fans or do you have your own group of Gunners where you live?
BM – We do have our own Arsenal Finland Facebook group and always gather together to watch big matches in a sports pub located in Helsinki. We have nonstop conversations about club affairs and cheer together for the reds. Basically I’ve got to know so many Gooners from Finland through this fan club and I’ve made friends who I spend every weekend with watching Arsenal. It’s a really great opportunity for us as fans and in a sparsely populated country to have people around you with whom you share identical mindsets about a great football club. L
atest memory is from our FA Cup Final. Finnish Gooners across the country gathered together in a pub to watch the Final. Such a memorable day it turned out to be! And I’m glad I had people around me who I could spend the very special victory with.
Happy Finnish Gooners after Ramsey’s cup final winner.
GD66 – A little bird (ME) tells me you have been seen at the Tollington on match days!! How often are you able to get over to see Arsenal and did you catch the game in Finland last summer? Is it easy to get tickets or do you rely on friends through social media?
BM – Oh boy! The Tollington is the best place to be on match days. Being amongst people who love the same club and giving off the same vibes, its pure paradise! I’ve also met some great people I know from twitter. I was there when Arsenal played Manchester City and before the game we were all so understandably nervous. After the game though, we were all buzzing because of the great football the boys had showcased. The atmosphere all around was positive and I thoroughly enjoyed my time. I did make some new friends there as well that day.
Looking forward to next season and my visits. And by the way, have to mention that I will most definitely come to your book event when you publish. My first ever Arsenal live game was against Marseille a few years back. From the first moment I stepped into the Emirates I knew it’s a place to be. The atmosphere there during the game was electrifying and I remember thinking “how on earth had I never come here way earlier?” Also have to mention that I met Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in that game. Nevertheless, I was just super happy that I’d finally made it! From that day on, I told myself that I will be there every opportunity I got! At the very least two times a year. Had never witnessed anything as beautiful with the sort of magic and feelings only we as supporters can understand very well.
About the tickets I’ve met some truly special people on twitter who I can always rely on whenever I need a ticket from a certain block. For my case, North Bank is the block! I always try to look for my tickets in the North Bank. I find the atmosphere there beautiful as we stand singing throughout the game. I am also a Red member and it’s easy to get match tickets from there as well.
Yes, I do still remember Arsenal’s coming to my hometown last summer. I still remember how on opening my mobile I read that ARSENAL WILL BE IN HELSINKI. GOSH! How I JUMPED with extreme happiness! The fact that I was going to have a chance to see MY CLUB IN MY TOWN!! For a stadium with 40k seats the tickets to the Olympic Stadium for the Arsenal vs Manchester City game were sold out in lightning speed – less than 2 hours. A big contrast to Tottenham’s visiting of Helsinki scheduled for August which has only seen 10k ticket sales so far (hoping the buyers don’t change their minds before matchday, and ask for refunds). Oh the pains of being a small club like Spurs. Forever in our shadow, over sea, air and land! Our 3-1 over City in that game saw the ENTIRE place EXPLODE! The whole stadium was red and white. There were over 30k Arsenal fans that got a happy ending. For some it was the first ever Arsenal game they attended and I’m happy for that fact. Also there were people from Russia and other Nordic countries so you could tell that Arsenal connects people.
GD66 – Has twitter enhanced the feeling of being part of something much bigger? A family? Have you made friends through Arsenal twitter who have become true friends?
BM – Twitter has been incredible, a place where you can either be happy or sad with a set of fans that support the same club as me. It’s just amazing to have people with whom you can have conversations about The Arsenal day and night. Of course twitter does have its downs too but mainly I focus on the positive ones and hence have made real life friends through it. I always set dates with my Gooner followers I chat with on twitter and meet them in real life as often as possible. Overall I’m really grateful for twitter and for the lovely people I’ve met through it.
GD66 – Do you have a favorite Arsenal match and perhaps a favorite player past or present?
BM – As I’ve mentioned earlier Thierry Henry is my favorite Arsenal player of all time. Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires from Invincibles are close to my heart. Those players are part of our club’s great history and I don’t think we will ever get a privilege to see their kinds in our lifetimes. I as well have so many great Arsenal games in my memory bank and it’s impossible to choose one favorite.
If I really have to tell you of at least one great game from the past, then it has got to be Arsenal beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in 2006. It was a victory that probably nobody anticipated. Thierry Henry’s goal was incredible too. Great history was made there as Arsenal became the first English team to defeat Real at Bernabeu. And from the recent past, it’s got to be Arsenal’s historical win against Barcelona. An absolute dynamite of a game. The way we went 1-0 down only to score 2 beautiful goals that night was magical. I was over the moon after that match and it was one of the best Champions League games we’ve ever played. Also Arsenal’s win against 5pur2 is one to remember. When we went 2-0 down, tell you man I got so depressed! And then BOOM 5 goals and we made them miserable. What a great comeback that was and how amazing we were against our rivals. This in addition to our 2nd 5-2 win in a year against our closest and fiercest rivals, sending them a clear message that North London is forever RED and that we’re not to be messed with. The Invincibles
GD66 – Lastly who are the player or players you would like to see arrive this summer and what are your aspirations for Arsenal 2014/15?
BM – I think we have had one great season behind us. In a typical (proverbial) Arsenal way, this too was a rollercoaster but one I’ve enjoyed so much. We started our campaign with a 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa, a defeat hard to take as the referee totally fucked the game. To make matters worse, I was actually THERE! Imagine how my day continued on after that. Ooh to be a Gooner… can never avoid these things when you’re a Gooner, can you? After that however, we signed Mesut Özil and went on to be top of the league for the rest of the year. Some bad injuries got in the way, affected our season so badly that we ended up relinquishing our position – how painful! But yet still, we managed not to end the season empty handed. Ending our tormenting trophy drought in spectacular fashion and won the coveted FA Cup. That win meant a whole world to every Arsenal fan the world over. The wait was just too much but in the end well worth it. At least we never went as far down as position 7 on the league table.
My top 2013/2014 moments were the Özil arrival at Arsenal, The FA Cup glory, Ramsey’s incredible form throughout the season. And as well as qualifying for the Champions League for the 17thconsecutive time. What a great achievement. Next season I expect us to compete just like last one. If we do the needed signings to strengthen our squad and be careful with injuries; we will be fine. First of all I think the most important thing is to keep our best players together.
Now that we’ve lost Bacary Sagna we need a right back to replace him. Carl Jenkinson is not entirely ready yet in my opinion, and we probably need two right backs anyway. We need to ensure that our squad has depth because the injuries will come during the season. I would rather strengthen our squad than keep replacing the players we lose. This is why I find it paramount for us to keep the players together. Our last season’s squad was strong but only short of few more players. If I have to give you names of players I’d like to see us to sign then it would be Serge Aurier, the Ivorian full back who has been quite impressive this past season, and even in his first game in the world cup. He’s only 21 years old so I trust that he would improve under our Arsene Wenger to world class levels. The only drawback in signing him would be him going off to the African Cup of Nations for a month every two years in January which is usually a crucial time for the Gunners. Seamus Coleman or Calum Chambers are also other options at Right Back.
Mario Balotelli would honestly be a dream signing; I know he’s had his issue in the past, but there’s no disputing his talent. Plus, if we can have Joel Campbell coming back from loan next season we only need one world class striker. Mikel Arteta is ageing and being a defensive midfielder is not his natural position; I feel getting either of Morgan Schneiderlin, Lars Bender and Sven Bender would be quite vital
Also with the departure of Lukasz Fabianski we need a backup keeper for Wojciech Szczesny for competition and in case of injuries. I am hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that we would get to sign at least 4 quality players before the transfer window closes and with the World Cup being the focus of attention at the moment it might just go down to the wire, I for one hope we wrap up our signings in good time.
GD66 – Thanks Bee your answers have nmade this one of the best Global Gooner Passion pieces on 1ND2OU and I thank you so much for that. x
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