The end of a drought for an Arsenal fan
When I was 11-years-old, many kids my age in my country did not know much about football. Their knowledge of football consisted of a sport where you have to kick a ball, score goals and that the goalkeeper has the privilege of using his hands. At the same age, I bought my first football video game.
Like any other sports game, the first task was choosing your team, and while I knew that Brazil was the best team and Ronaldo Lima was the best player in the world, FIFA 99 featured a list of teams I had never heard of before as they were clubs of some English Premier League. Disappointed with this discovery, I had no choice but to choose a team and begin playing.
The first team in the list was a five-star team with a red and white kit. Red used to be one of my favourite colours at the time and seeing that this team was rated five stars, I saw a good enough reason to choose it. When I started playing, I got familiarised with the names of Anelka (who would score all my goals), Bergkamp, Viera, Overmars, Petit, and Seaman. Occasionally, I would get excited when I would see them on TV during football matches and thus, my fascination was growing into a fondness for the team and their playing style.
The team was Arsenal and to this day it has always been Arsenal. No matter which edition of FIFA I would play and no matter which console I would play it on, it has always been Arsenal. For the past 15 years, the only football club that I have been a fan of has been Arsenal.
Even though I was a big fan of the club, I wasn’t that big a fan of the game itself until 2006. This was the year of the FIFA World Cup in Germany. This was the World Cup in which Tomas Rosicky scored a 30-yard screamer that, according to the commentator,
“Must have brought a smile on Arsene Wenger’s face”
This was the first World Cup I had watched in totality and my interest in football swelled.
Outside the international circuit, football automatically meant Arsenal. From August 2006, I began following my first Premier League season. This was significant because it was Arsenal’s first season at their new Emirates Stadium. It meant that I had missed a huge chunk of success that the club had witnessed at Highbury, including the famous ‘Invincible’ period. It also meant that the best days of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry were behind him and the only match that another club legend Bergkamp would now play in would be his testimonial match at the new stadium.
Hence, my journey as an Arsenal follower started from the Emirates and not, regrettably, Highbury. I would read each interview and each article on the club’s website, spend my free time learning about the players and watch every match that was aired on TV. And while many of my friends who’re also Arsenal fans had Theirry Henry right at the top of their favourite players list, my favourite was a young Spaniard called Cesc Fabregas. I am from the generation that saw him, along with Gael Clichy, Alex Song, Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie, Andrey Arshavin and Abou Diaby, develop into world class players. Unfortunately though, none of them except Diaby stuck around for long enough to win Arsenal silverware. And hence season after season, my fascination as a fan grew. They won their last trophy in the 2005 FA Cup, a year before I had started following the club, and to my sheer disappointment, I had never seen my favourite club lift a trophy since then.
But all of this changed a few nights ago.
The jinx was broken and the drought was over. It finally rained at the Emirates, as Arsenal managed to lift its first piece of silverware since beating Manchester United in 2005. A fan of 15 years and a follower since nine years, I finally got the privilege to witness what opposing football fans witness season after season. Arsenal won a trophy and I was on cloud nine.
It doesn’t matter how long it took, as long as it came. And hopefully it will come again, sooner this time. My faith, and the faith of millions of other Arsenal fans, has finally paid off. The years of frustration has finally reaped success. Arsenal has won a trophy.
The Welshman with the gold feet scored the all-important winner. Arsenal has won silverware. They were two-nil down within 10 minutes of the game and yet they got the job done.
Arsenal has won the 2014 FA Cup. Also, FYI, Chelsea did not win anything this season!