Just another post for you to read: How I became a Barca (and football) fan

Downtown Ottawa
My hometown in all its frozen glory

(How does someone from ^ there end up supporting a team in sunny Spain? Good question. I’m here to give you an incredibly long-winded answer and you’re going to read it. Yay! I actually wrote this days ago—this is the second part of my introductory post—but with all the new writers, it has been pushed back to today)

As a kid, despite growing up in the (currently freezing and snow covered) capital of the world’s hockey haven, I was always surrounded by soccer. The majority of my siblings loved to play it and I played too, with the kids from my neighbourhood on a wide, expansive, and clean, field in a nearby park (although with little supervision, this used to happen often). The biggest football fan in my family was my older sister, a Juventus supporter whose love for Del Piero was dwarfed only by one Brazilian Ronaldo. She was the only one who had followed club football in my immediate family (my brothers were more into basketball). Although I played football, I wasn’t really interested in the pro leagues. “Fun to play, but not that interesting to watch,” thought my kid self. Besides, I was too busy owning at 4-square (if you haven’t play this, you’ve missed out. I spent many-a-recess playing this game), dodgeball, and soccer-baseball (a.k.a kickball) along with football to sit in front of the TV for 90 minutes.

International tournaments were the only soccer matches I watched, mostly because it was the only football broadcasted on TV in Canada that was easily found on the TV listings and also because it was a family affair; all my siblings would gather in front of the TV and we’d all watch the match. Euro 2004 is the first tournament I have vivid memories of. The first match I watched was France-England. Let me just say now that the England NT and their football have always been ridiculed by my older sister (she was a Brazil supporter and a fan of Serie A team; the distain makes sense now that I think about it) and most of my siblings, and, as such, I never considered it. In my mind, it was an “overrated league” that, despite a lot of hype, no-one really cared about (Serie A was the top dog back then). David Beckham wasn’t the most popular in my family either and was considered as overrated and overhyped (Ray Hudson backs me up on this). Zidane, on the other hand, was highly rated and was seen as “the man” for France, so when France and England met in the first match of the group stage, it set up the perfect scenario: “overrated” England and Beckham would destroyed by the “awesome” Zidane.

Except it didn’t work out that way.

Fast-forward to the 75th minute and France was losing 1-0 to England and, to rub salt into the wound, Beckham had gotten an assist. It went from bad to worse when England won a penalty, which Beckham took. Although it was saved (and a darn good save from Barthez at that), the damage had been done. It looked like England was going to win the game. Dejected, my sisters had gone upstairs and it was just me watching the match. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The clock was edging closer and closer to full-time and I was starting to lose hope and interest when, in the 90th minute, it happened: a France free-kick. Up stepped Zidane and I sat up. Was Zidane finally going to pull something out of his hat? The camera zoomed to Zidane’s focused face, the ref’s whistle blew and

I’m pretty sure my scream from back then is still ringing in my house if you listen closely enough.

My sisters ran down the stairs just as Henry won a penalty. Up stepped that man Zidane again. Would he score it? Will France snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat at the death? Yes and yes. It was exhilarating, everything I had wanted to see happened, albeit in a way different from what I expected. The craziest thing was that I didn’t even like France–that is to say, I didn’t support them. I didn’t support anyone and I just knew the star names (Ronaldo, Zidane, Raul, Sheva, Del Piero…), but I hadn’t felt such emotion in any sport I’ve watched (which, to be fair, was few). I still don’t support France, but I knew I watched a good match.

France were eventually knocked, which didn’t matter because I didn’t support them. I went on to watch random games from the tournament. Coincidently, Deco had caught my eye for Portugal and even though I didn’t know anything about that lanky guy with the diamond earrings—I later found out his name was Cristiano Ronaldo—I knew I didn’t like him, even back then. Anyway, the tournament continued, but it was that France-England game that stood out for me. I remember Greece-Portugal being really boring, but me wanting Portugal to win because it was on home turf. It didn’t happen and all I remember with regards to that match is Ronaldo’s crying face at the end.

Euro 2004 wasn’t the tournament where my football obsession began though. That wouldn’t happen until 2006—the World Cup in Germany. At this point in my life, I wasn’t playing football all that much anymore, despite it still being my favourite sport. After Euro 2004, I took interest in different sports, mainly due to school influence. I was a basketball player before I shifted to volleyball at some point (which is funny because I’m a midget <—not really), before leaving school sports in general in favour of sleep (Get up at 6AM for practice? Fudge that.) I had to occasional kick-about in gym class, but that was about it. None of my friends had any real interest in sports, let alone football (but they still humored me anyway) and all the kids I used to play with either moved away or became traitors, taking up hockey instead.

If you’re wondering, no, I didn’t/don’t play hockey. I don’t have anything against it, but it just isn’t my “cup of tea” (I do support our national team though. WE WON GOLD! TAKE THAT, USA!). I did play floor hockey in gym class and let me tell you, the myth that female hockey players are the ones with technique and the guys are the ones who are more physical is just that—a freakin’ myth. Women’s floor hockey is war and girls are brutal. Those who had technique were swiftly beaten at the shin level with the sticks we used—sneakily, of course. I have battle-scars to prove it. Female soccer players, by the way, have their moments of brutality as well.

The international tournament tradition continued, however, so when WC 2006 came around, I wanted a team to support. Brazil was my sisters’ team, some girls I knew were supporting Portugal (no prizes for guessing why) but I didn’t want to “piggyback” on anyone’s team nor did I want to support a team on the basis on one player’s looks, I wanted my ‘own’. In the end, I didn’t find a team; I found a player.

I went to fifa.com and surfed the teams. Spain? Nah. Czech Republic? I had a soft spot for Nedved in ’04 but nah. Australia? Nah. Argentina? Well, at the time, I had always thought that Argentina were under Brazil’s shadow—Brazil had all the super stars and Argentina just had…the occasional great player like Batistuta (my sister may have had some influence here). I looked through the squad list of Argentina and I didn’t recognize anyone. Heck, I saw “Riquelme” and I was like, “how do I even pronounce that?!” However, one name caught my eye and I, on a whim, decided to click it. The player? Lionel MESSI #19. This is where it all started.

I saw Messi was only 18, turning 19, during the tournament. I hadn’t known anything about him, or the season he had, or the team he played for. I just thought, “Cool! A teen at a WC!” Sufficiently interested, I checked out Argentina’s next game against Serbia & Montenegro (as it was known back then). Messi didn’t start and I was a bit disappointed, but that game turned out to be an Argentina master-class (I got the see THAT Cambiasso goal). It wasn’t until the 75th minute that Messi came on and touched the ball. And then ran with it.

I was instantly a fan.

Having played the game, I knew how difficult dribbling at full-speed was, but he did it with close control to boot. I was beyond impressed. Step-overs don’t impress me as much because anyone can do them. The time it takes for one’s feet to go over the ball may vary, but anyone can do it. What Messi did and does so often? I had never seen it before. I saw a player with a lot of talent and decided, just like that, to follow him. Just my luck he scored to boot.

After some research, I knew I found “my” player, so to speak. Messi, at the time, wasn’t a “big name” or anything like that. He was humble, soft-spoken and shy, and short, like I am. (I am, at 5’2”, the shortest in a family of giants). I saw a lot of similarities between Messi and myself. Argentina were knocked out by Germany, although I still think they would have won had Peckerman not taken Riquelme off at the 80th minute, but I came away with a player to follow. There was only one other player I had seen that I was semi-interested in. That player? One Francesc Fabregas. I kid you not. That’s how I found Arsenal, but seeing as I’m a cule, you know which player I cared about more. (The thing that impressed me, by the way, was an inch-perfect through ball behind the defense. A young player doing that a WC? Color me impressed. I now know, however, that Xavi does that a regular basis and had I watched a full Spain match (I always seemed to catch the ending of their games, which explains why I saw Fabregas), and seen Xavi from the start, I’d probably have followed him)

In any case, I found Messi’s team was Barcelona and I followed him there. My first season was the 06-07 season and I didn’t know anything about Barcelona. Nada. Zitch.  I followed Barca games via live commentary and livescore.com, because they weren’t on my TV and I hadn’t discovered the existence of streams. I spent most of my time learning football terminology (“What’s a center-half? Okay, then what’s a center-back? They’re just interchangeable words? Man, I hate when words are interchangeable!”) and reading articles to expand my knowledge of Barcelona.

The first Spanish newspaper I found was Marca and, after that, Sport. I was ignorant to the different affinities of the newspapers and the politics in Spanish football, so the whole time I was wondering why Marca seemed to be against Barca and why Madrid got more positive attention. I also wondered why Sport was saying the occasional nice thing about Barca, but mostly negative attention. (You can laugh at me here if you want. In my defense, I had thought all newspapers were objective and just reporting news).  At some point, I even thought Marca was pro-Barca newspaper and Sport was an EE paper (I didn’t know any Spanish so I relied on Google Translator).

Oh, how clueless I was.

What was really happening was, at that time, Marca was talking unmitigated glee in the end of an era and Sport were being their hyperbolic selves. I had found a Barca who was at the beginning of the end, coming off a double and a poor WC for star man Ronaldinho. A Barca that would soon self-destruct quite spectacularly. I was new to the world of club football, having never been exposed to it in Canada, so I thought everything they said had some truth to it. I was like that noob on your team on Call of Duty who, being a noob, would always walk into that area filled with campers and get killed. Time and time again. Because they didn’t know any better (or they did and just wanted to piss you off, the bastards) and I didn’t either. I was just an innocent Canadian girl who found a player I wanted to support and went to the team he played for.

Despite the lack of streams and all the other things I’m aware of now, I still followed Barca, but if I’m honest, at first I followed Messi and not so much Barca (but I still wanted them to win). I saw the highlights when I could and read every article I could find.  The only games that would be on my TV were the Champions League games, but even then, Barca had to be playing an EPL team (as opposed to nowadays, where they are shown because they’re FC Barcelona, the best team in the world. Games the EPL teams play in are still secured first though).

My first major disappointment was the loss of the Club World Cup to “lesser known” (in my eyes) Internacional de Porto Alegre (I didn’t know (much) about the intense rivalry between Barca and Madrid, so the 2-0 loss wasn’t any more significant than any other loss. I’m telling ya, I was a total newb). It was the first of many disappointments that season, the biggest being the draw with Espanyol where we lost the league on the final day to Madrid. The highlight of that season for me, though, was Messi’s hat-trick against them and his growing profile in Europe and the world.

The summer of 2007 is when I first attended a football tournament. Canada was hosting the Under-20 (also known as Sub-20) World Cup and Ottawa was one of the host cities, so the first thing I did was buy a ticket. Why not? It was in my own backyard and a good opportunity to see some professional soccer right in front my eyes. Argentina, the Czech Republic (Martin Fenin! I don’t know what the flip happened to him, but he was the MAN for them. And their goalkeeper whose name eludes me. Their team actually walked around the street during Canada Day, taking pictures with people who noticed them. RESPECT), North Korea, and Panama were all playing in Ottawa. Aguero was called up (but not Messi, sad face) and he was the only player I knew other than Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela of Mexico, who were playing in Toronto.

Now, Ottawa is a quiet city, some would even say it’s a little dull, but when the U20 WC came around, people came out in droves. I did not know Ottawa had such a large Argentine population. The excitement in the air was almost palpable; people had large drums, bagging it any chance they had; some were wearing their countries traditional clothing; others painted their faces, or even their whole bodies, with their countries colors… it was amazing. I had seen documentaries of how football could bring people together, but I was seeing it firsthand. I lived in Ottawa my whole life; I hadn’t seen anything like this. Hockey may be the nation’s game, but football was the game everyone came out to enjoy.

The side of the stadium I was in was predominately where the Argentina fans were, and man, can they create an atmosphere! It was like a mini-Bombonera! I wasn’t even Argentine and I couldn’t help but chant along, “Ole ole ole, ole ole ole, ola! Ole ole ole, cada dia, te quiero mas! Soy Argentinooo! Es un sentimentooo, no puedo pararrrr!” ( Holy crap, I can’t believe I still remember that). I went to the tournament with my Messi #19 Barca kit, and everywhere I went, I got a nod of acknowledgement, or a knowing smile. It was so cool.  When the tournament was over, I felt a little sad. The solidarity among the fans was just astounding. I hope another tourney comes around.

One day, couple of weeks later, I found an article on Google. It had a different, less “pro”, title to its name than the others (I think it was a Kxevin review). I looked at the source and saw “Barca the Offside”. I clicked the link, read the article and I bookmarked the site. I read more posts and comments and I was hooked. The quality was astounding. I went to a variety of Barca, and football, blogs, but this one was totally different. The people and writers were rational, as opposed to hyperbolic, and seemed to know what the heck they were talking about, as opposed to the first online board I went to; the La Liga section of FoxSports.com (the less I say about it, the better. Let’s just say it wasn’t very good). I found my go-to place in the football blog-o-sphere.

Barca the Offside was where my Messi obsession became a genuine Barca love (but I still have a Messi obsession). I saw the club in a different way and learnt more and more about it, and football, through the Offside. It was funny and informative at the same time. The “in-depth” football knowledge I have is thanks to the Offside (and BFB). Previously, I knew that rules (and yes, for the millionth time, I knew the offside rule as well. Oh, you didn’t ask? Sorry, female football fan defense mechanism/reflex) but I didn’t really know tactics very well.

The most crucial thing I found, however, was the existence of streams. Now, I could watch a full Barca match and this is when I became a true cule. I grew to love pretty much everything about our team; the small, incisive passes from Xavi, the croquetas of Iniesta, the aggressiveness of Puyol, the beastliness of the Yaya, the insanity of Eto’o, and, of course, the runs of Messi. It wasn’t the best season from our team, but, in my eyes, the football was just out of this world. Pass, move, and receive; everything, so simple, but so complex as well. I missed all of this when I followed via live commentary. The biggest downside, though, was our inability to hold on to a lead. I always felt that, at some point, the other team was going to score.

I lurked on the Offside the whole of the dreadful 07/08 season. I was content to lurk because it seemed like the commenters knew each other for a while and it had a nice family atmosphere which I didn’t want to interrupt. Plus, I didn’t have enough confidence in my Barca and football know-how to join in. I was also a little too shy. Eventually Barca the Offside became Barcelona Football Blog and it was then when I first posted a comment. I had lurked for a while, bidding my time until I gathered courage and I thought that was a good time to act (why does this suddenly sound less innocent and more malicious?). I don’t remember what the comment was, but I remember wanting to make an “intelligent” post. I also remember failing.

Time has passed and I’m a full-on cule, becoming an admin on a site I used to lurk. How ‘bout that? So let this be a message to all lurkers: no matter how little your football knowledge is, or how shy you may be, just join in! People here are nice, so feel to ask questions (even though I was too shy to at first). You never know where you might end up! Some of you even live in Barcelona, right? We’d love to hear from you! My Catalan is as good as my Spanish, which is to say, horrible. Lots of Europeans, Africans, Asians, Central and South Americans here as well. 🙂

(And an extra message to the grammar nerds among us: have some mercy. The only time my grammar skills were tested was in 9th grade when my English summative (something worth 15% of your final grade) was a 14-page grammar test.  I’m neither a professional journalist nor an experienced blogger—I actually never blogged in my life—I’m just a girl with a laptop and a lot of free time heart.)

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184 Comments

  1. February 4, 2011

    this post is far too long. i’ll read it later. ;^)

    congrats kari!

    man those brigham young new mexico game highlights were awesome! they put maulaga to shame.

  2. Jnice
    February 4, 2011

    Great story, buddy. I loved it. Admin on a site you used to lurk-what a great rags to riches story haha.

    And now I realize why I don’t remember seeing you on the Offside page. I lurked for a bit on there too (only b/c I was too lazy to post, took a couple of months), but it’s really cool once you become a regular.

    • February 4, 2011

      Rags to riches? Damn, why hadn’t I thought of that?! Yeah, pretty much 😀

      Thanks for the compliment(s), pal.

      • February 4, 2011

        I loved that Barca Offside Page. I haven’t been since Isaiah and Kevin Started this blog. Very similar thing happened for me, though my first barca game i watched was at the camp nou, front row seats to watch ronaldinho score a hat trick against zaragoza in 2006. That was epic, i knew who he was, but nothing of Barca. My gf was studying there at the time, and ever since then, ive been a crazy devoted cule that has traveled the great distance each year, to watch a match in that majestic, energy filled stadium.

  3. February 4, 2011

    oh, & here’s a great article on albert benaiges:
    http://www.thenational.ae/sport/uae-sport/man-who-nurtured-messi-xavi-and-iniesta-into-world-beaters-at-barcelona-heads-to-dubai-club

    some words from him on messi:
    “He just loved playing football. He didn’t mind what level he played at, he just wanted the ball at his feet. Some kids play in the A team, but when you ask them to play for the B team they pull a face. With Messi, he always gave everything and he was always the best.”

  4. Nav
    February 4, 2011

    Thanks for that amazing story Kari. My story is very similar (I’m still in my newb phase though). Great read 🙂

    • February 4, 2011

      Thanks, Nav! You’ll pass that newb phase soon enough 😉

  5. mei
    February 4, 2011

    Excellence , kari!
    I still remember that argentina match , we were watching it with friends. I was always bitching about why messi wasnt in from the beginning since it was obvious when he came in the difference he could make and how much better the output of the argentinian team improved.
    I think he got an assist along with a goal in that single performance too!

    • February 4, 2011

      Thanks, mei. He assisted Crespo, if I’m not mistaken, and had a role to play in Tevez’ goal as well.

  6. Sheena
    February 4, 2011

    That was nice to read. I also used to only follow international tournaments, but my mom is a huge Bayern fan, so somewhere along the line, I began following Champions League matches, and club football.

    I started following Barca back in the 2007-08 season, because I liked that they had Unicef on their jersey, and the fact that they seemed to be the underdogs to Madrid. Quite fascinating how one’s football knowledge tends to rapidly expand once they develop an emotional attatchment to a team.

    I was a lurker around the Offside, and BFB, for quite some time before I finally decided to comment. And boy, am I glad I did 🙂

    Also, this is gold: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lg1j3luIxN1qdzfxl.gif

  7. Cesc Pistol
    February 4, 2011

    Man this post makes me feel old. 😀

    The first club I used to follow (not as a fan) was Newcastle and like most footie fans around those years I used to follow Serie A quite a bit, I really liked Totti and Nesta. I used to follow Liga quite a bit too but like most people who became Barca fans around that time, it was THAT goal by Rivaldo that made me a fan.

    It’s strange to think back how different Barca was during those days.

  8. yuley
    February 4, 2011

    Thanks for sharing, Kari.
    Reminded me my story a little Came for Messi, stay for Xavi 🙂

  9. merge
    February 4, 2011

    Very nice to read, Kari. I guess there’s some little piece of your heart left there, right?

    Thanks for encouraging the long-time lurkers (like myself) to contribute! Like you say, it takes some courage to “disturb” the family affairs…

    Since I discovered this site, I’ve been impressed at the huge number of Barça fans out there. I mean, is it the easiest thing to support your city team, but now I know there are people from over the world supporting this team, it’s amazing! And people who know about and understand football, which make me feel so proud of the boys for playing so spectacularly that they draw so much attention and it’s difficult not support them! (I know, I know, I should be proud of my own work, no the others’, but still…)

    • February 4, 2011

      No problem, merge! It’s really, really cool that we get Catalans reading our blog! English is my first language and I couldn’t contribute, so I can’t imagine what it’s like when it’s your second/third language. You’ve got my respect, man.

      It’s funny how attached you get to a team, eh? Now watching a Real Madrid game is the equivalent of being strapped to a chair and being made to watch the Twilight series (meaning, I’d rather gouge out my eyeballs ).

      And you should be very proud of your team. I just wish I could watch a game live… Ah, well.

      • merge
        February 4, 2011

        Hey, I’m a woman!

        And oh yes, this language thing is terrifying! 🙂 I hope you forget my mistakes.

        Everybody should have the pleasure of attending to a game live, the club could be nice and invite some fans every week at the Camp Nou. Shall we ask Sandro to consider it?

        • soccermomof4
          February 4, 2011

          Merge, don’t feel bad. Because of the different languages and because screen handles are ambiguous at times(except for those of us who have “mom” in their screen name (dead giveaway)) we tend to guess about genders here and assume( a dangerous and often embarassing thing) male since there are so few of us female cules here (so far as I know soccermom, myself, Kari, and Blitzen, and now Linda are the only ones (forgive me if I missed some obvious ones) so welcome, sister. Poor Helge(male) was the last victim.

          • Vj
            February 4, 2011

            You forgot lovelymofo and Isaiah :p

            Man that joke never gets old!

          • merge
            February 4, 2011

            Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel bad, it was just an extra information. How could you know? Sorry if I made it seem so.

            It’s great to be called “sister” here. Thanks!

        • February 4, 2011

          A woman? Ahhh, no wonder you know English so well 😀 *ducks flying objects from men*

          Well then, bienvenida a BFB, hermana!

        • Humphrey Bogart
          February 5, 2011

          I am a girl too and just to Andy Gray off, I knwo the offside rule (passive and active)

  10. barca96
    February 4, 2011

    You came to support Barca at the wrong time hehe.
    If it was only 2 years earlier when things were about to explode(again!. You would’ve seen the club transform into a winning team. That was really a beautiful period.

    I myself became a 100% fan in 1996. Started watching a lot of Barca in 1995 when I moved to Holland. It was only natural for me to support them as my dad is a huge fan of Cruyff and all Cruyff related(Ajax & Barca). He even called Cruyff up and he actually got to talk to him 🙂 .
    So I became a fan of Jordi Cruyff too.Sigh. He was actually quite ok. But he only had one move which is; with right leg over the ball to fake the defender and then use his left to push the ball forward. He did that every single time.

    Another player that I really liked from 1995 was Sergi and of course Figo. BUt when ROnaldo joined in 1996, it became soooo crazy!!

    The first international football match that I watched was actually in 1992 CL final. All I remembered was that my dad asked me to support Barca but I didn’t understand anything at that time. So I can’t call myself a fan since 1992.

    Speaking of old Barca players, Rivaldo scored a goal in his debut for Sao Paolo and did a similar pass he did in 2002 WC. Yea!

    • February 4, 2011

      You came to support Barca at the wrong time

      Sigh. I know, but what can ya do? I’ve got some memories of WC2002 but not as much as the tournaments after it.

      Your dad called Cruyff?! Man, that’s some dedication 😛

      • barca96
        February 4, 2011

        Haha yes he did. In 70’s or 80’s, I can’t remember.
        He called their house. I mean c’mon, Cruyff is the best footballer to come out out of our country, most probably ever.
        I’m quite amazed that that’s possible(my Dad calling Cruyff).
        I don’t think at this age we can simply look up for a footballer or a celebrity’s phone number and ring them up and expect them to answer the phone.

  11. Eklavya
    February 4, 2011

    Nice story, Shorty 😀
    Many ways similar to mine, which I shall also write down, but now right now, cause I gotta go back to class.

    • February 4, 2011

      Shorties are badass. And the best players in the world. Yesh.

      • blitzen
        February 4, 2011

        You only like this team because of the midgets. Admit it.

        • February 4, 2011

          I vehemently deny your accusation! okay, there may be some truth to it

  12. Camero
    February 4, 2011

    Interesting to know what captures the hearts of fans. Normally it is a player, or even one special moment. For me, it was watching Ronaldinho in a champions league match. Somehow, the game looked so effortless to him, as if he was simply playing around. The moment that finally sealed it for me was when Iniesta came off the bench and I remember thinking: if this is the quality of their backups, this team must be something special.

  13. Camero
    February 4, 2011

    Not sure how true this is but apparently Pepe will not renew his contract and leave on free this summer. Would be an amazing signing considering his fee. Real are really stupid if they let him go

    • barca96
      February 4, 2011

      I would never ever want that thug in our team!
      He should try to move to an EPL club.

      • Lev
        February 4, 2011

        barca96 you moved to Holland in 95? Where are you from, en waar woon je?

        • BA
          February 4, 2011

          i wouldn’t take Pepe, he’s an animal. that incident against Getafe is inexcusable. that said, Madrid would be daft to let him go as he’s their only solid defender of a reasonable age. can’t imagine Mourinho would be thrilled at that news, and it also means that Madrid are going to be in the market for at least *3* MORE players in the summer window.

          sadly, they can’t buy class.

          • barca96
            February 4, 2011

            secret language-Ik woon nu in Maleisie/Australia/Singapore.
            M’n vader is Nederlands en mn ma uit Maleisie-secret language.
            😆
            So where are you from?
            I used to live Rotterdam. Near Kralingen, where many professional footballers grew up from hehe.
            R.v.Persie, Gianni Zuiverloon, Nathan Rutjes, Bogarde(yes! ex-Barca) etc.

        • MoSSi
          February 4, 2011

          Mag ik erbij komen? Ik woon in België, Marokkaanse roots..

  14. soccermomof4
    February 4, 2011

    What I did on My Summer Vacation AKA How I Became a Barca fan

    I’ve been a soccer mom ever since my first kid was 4. I’ve organized snack lists and pizza parties and cheered my head off but I never really “got” soccer. I played varsity basketball and softball in high school but our school didn’t get women’s soccer until my senior year so I never learned the game first hand.

    My daughter and her best friend started playing for a varsity team. Her friend’s family got all gung ho about it, ordered the cable sports package and became obsessed. I never bothered to follow suit because it’s my opinion that the less TV you have in the house the better off you are.

    So we are vacationing with said family last summer during the Confederations Cup. It’s not the best tournament to get you interested in football but it had the Spaniards, whose style I instantly preferred (it also had that miracle on grass game where the US beat the Spaniards, nothing like a little patriotism to jump start a liking for something). We watched Brazil play. Why on earth does that guy want to be called caca? They explained the nickname. They also would say things like “if you think so and so is good you should see Messi play”. Wait a minute, there’s a guy named Caca and a guy named Messy ( I have since taken to collecting strange (to English speaking people) names in football. So far I’ve got Messi, Kaka, Butt, Burpo, and Trasche ( I’m also compiling a list of the 10 ugliest professional footballers and I will keep on working on it until I am able to bump our dear captain below 10th place so he doesn’t appear on the list but that’s beside the point))

    Since our friends were Liverpool and Barca fans, that’s who we started with. It was confusing at first. There’s league play, there’s CL, there are the domestic cups, there are international callups, and even more confusing was that on top of all that there was for Barca that year something called a Spanish Super Cup, a European one, and a World Club Cup thing (our heads were spinning those first few months and almost exploded when last December in addition to all this many of our new heroes were involved in a Catalunya v Argentina game (huh?)). We figured it out, categorized all this and our heads no longer spin. We all as a family love Barca, but our friends’ beloved Liverpool held no interest for us. I gravitated to Arsenal (style of play thing for me ( I like the oooooh purdy stuff)), oldest son to Man U, and hubby for some strange reason to Chelsea. The rest of the teenage kids love to play soccer, watch it some, but don’t really care as much. So yeah, we too came for Messi, stayed for Xavi….and Iniesta, and our dear captain Cavemen, and the dapper Pep, and the cantera philosophy, and the…

    The most frustrating thing about being a soccer/football/futbol fan is that nobody gets it. You can talk to your friends about the Ravens but most of them have never heard of Barca. I first read the official site to get my news, then figured out the soccernet site which lead me to lurk at the soccernet comments (not my cup of tea). I can’t remember how I found BFB (probably followed a link to a link to another link, liked what I saw and favorited). I can’t even remember my first timid post (I’m always scared about what I put out onto the old webbernet (took me forever just to get on FB)) I’m an “old hand” (OK I’m still a newbie) now but at least I know what TB, FF, EE, 3M, and CT mean.

    • barca96
      February 4, 2011

      May I know what car you’re driving? Cause there is a category in cars that is called, soccer mom cars 🙂
      They are usually SUV’s so I was wondering if you were like those typical soccer mom’s that are portrayed in American movies & sitcoms.

        • mei
          February 4, 2011

          haha! its got to be really cool to be a soccer mom though! For all the people that actually do take an interest in football(real football not the american fake one :p).
          For all it takes , I ‘ve been a barcelona fan since 1998(kluivert poster over my bed for no apparent reason and cant really remember who gifted me that, led me to do a little research about our club!) and nowadays my father whos not that much into football ,calls me up to ask about fixtures of our club , whether its live broadcasted here and whether i can provide him with any good links to watch the games when its not :D.

          • barca96
            February 4, 2011

            Was it an Adidas poster?
            Cause I have one too. I have quite a few of those Adidas posters.
            Del Piero, Zidane & Beckham are in them.
            Adidas ads back then were good. Nowadays they are way behind Nike.

    • February 4, 2011

      Nice story, SoMa4. I love hearing about how someone became a fan.

      The most frustrating thing about being a soccer/football/futbol fan is that nobody gets it.

      Know what you mean. I’ve long since given up having a decent football conversation in “real” life–unless it’s my siblings; they’ll know what I’m talking about…

      • BTTFCule
        February 4, 2011

        My story is similar. Watched Messi and became a fan. Now I won’t trade Xavi for Messi 🙂

        I was Argentina fan since 1986 though. It took me ages to get into club football.

    • Jnice
      February 4, 2011

      Great story, SoMa4 (Kari has persuaded me to stick with this nickname).

      You seem to know a lot about Barça, I wouldn’t have thought you’ve only followed them for less than 2 yers.

      • soccermomof4
        February 4, 2011

        Most of what I know, I’ve learned from you all.

    • Helge
      February 4, 2011

      Hehe, I think you are talking about Christian Träsch from VfB Stuttgart?

      The funny thing about his name is that he is really pronouned in German like the English word “trash”. I somehow cannot sympathize with him due to that name, but probably also because I have an aversion for VfB Stuttgart.

      • soccermomof4
        February 4, 2011

        Yup- was watching us play Stuttgart last year and I was like -oh goody, another name for my collection (Hope you didn’t take offense at my picking of his name for my little game (I’m American but of German heritage anyway (maiden name and married name both German)).

  15. Goo
    February 4, 2011

    Great post fellow midget Kari! I’m so tiny even Barca’s midgets would tower over me. And it was those midgets who really got me futbol-crazy. Watching Ronnie made me interested in the team, but discovering Barca’s bajitos de oro made me a die-hard cule.

  16. y2k156
    February 4, 2011

    Nice story.

    I guess i started being a fan of Barca for same reason, messi. I did indeed watch football and Barca for a long time though. Being a neutral, i guess i can change my teams:). As Indian, EPL was omni present and hence by default i was a Man U fan since 96. I loved the Rivaldo/Ronaldo barca in late nineties. I truly started following Barcelona in 2006-07 (which was not the greatest season). I still like Messi the best but i would say that i am as much a fan of our football as any player now.

    As for Argentina and 2006, even today i feel bile rise to my throat.

  17. Vj
    February 4, 2011

    Nice write-up Kari!

    Hmm, did you say Zidane was a reason in you being a fan? *Stares with Suspicion* 😛

    It was the same with me though, Ronaldo (the real fat mofo), was the one who got me interested in Barca, with THAT goal..

    • February 4, 2011

      It was Messi! Only Messi, I say!

      If you’re talking about his goal against Compostela, yeah, that was insane.

      • soccermomof4
        February 4, 2011

        It was Messi! Only Messi, I say!

        …and Cuddly, and now 3M…

      • barca96
        February 4, 2011

        Aww man.. That’s nice. Finally they give him some recognition.
        He fully deserves it!

  18. Lev
    February 4, 2011

    Growing up in Holland, my team used to be Ajax. My favorite players were Van Basten and after that Dennis Bergkamp.

    Ajax used to have beautiful teams made up of youth players showing attacking football 4-3-3 (mmmm…does this sound familiar to you?). Coached by Cruijff before he left for Barça, they won the European Cup Winners Cup with Van Basten scoring the winner in 1989. In the 90s they added a UEFA Cup and a Champions League Cup, both under Van Gaal.

    Back in the late 80s and in the 90s we did not receive live games on TV, except for the international competitions for clubs and countries.

    Still, every Sunday showed extensive highlights of La Liga and the Serie A. And pretty much everybody in my country had favorite “foreign” teams as well. As a kid mine were AC Milan in Italy, due to Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard, and of course F.C. Barcelona in Spain, due to Johan Cruijff (the trainer, not the player – I am not thaaaat old) and the dream team. Guardiola, Bakero, Laudrup, Koeman, Beguiristain, Stoichkov, I adored them. Later came Romario who was brilliant – I had already see him play in Holland of course. And the shirts and the stadium were beautiful!

    A couple of seasons after winning the Champions League (I believe 3, but could be wrong) Van Gaal left for Barça. By that time I fully supported both Ajax and Barça – my support for Milan having disappeared after the departure of Van Basten and Rijkaard (who, btw, returned to Ajax as a player to beat Milan in the final of the 95 CL, the winner scored by then 18 yr old Patrick Kluivert).

    It was under Van Gaal that I started to love Barcelona and merely follow Ajax.

    Now the reason why is where it gets interesting: I loved Van Gaal at Ajax, yet hated him at Barça! I thought it was despicable how he raided his former team and brought all of his Ajax academy players to Barça (Kluivert, Reiziger, Ronald en Frank de Boer, Litmanen) and some other Dutch players as well (Cocu, Hesp, Zenden).

    And I was intrigued to learn that the Catalans despised him so, that they hated the Dutch invasion as much as I disliked it, yet for other reasons. You would think they’d be happy when their team buys so many talented footballers, but they were not. Also, though Van Gaal is an excellent coach, as a man he did not fit Barça’s culture at all.

    Around this time (in my late teens) I started learning more about F.C. Barcelona and their history, what they mean to Catalunya, the significance of més que un club.

    Also due to the Champion’s League I got to watch a lot more games live.

    I found myself more and more drawn to Barça, while my love for Ajax faded to the background. It was a very gradual transition.

    I tolerated Van Gaal when he brought championships, but was happy for him to leave. And I was happy for there to be less Dutch players in the squad.

    Some years later (I think in 2002) Ajax and Barça played each other in a friendly and I found myself rooting for the blaugrana. Of course, I had been a fan Barça as long as I remember, and for the 5 years leading up to that friendly I already followed Barça a lot more than Ajax, but they had never played my boyhood club before and I guess I had never had to “choose”. Then again, the heart had already spoken.

    If I remember correctly we lost that game 3-4, a young Van Der Vaart played particularly well and Barça were a bit of a mess those years.

    Remember the bad times, treasure the good times. Never again will I switch teams, simply not possible. I made the pilgrimage in 2004 to see us beat Deportivo La Coruña in the Camp Nou. Ronaldinho was majestic. Yet I don’t realllly consider myself a culé, simply because in the literal sense of the word, my ass has not sat in the Camp Nou (or los Cortes, lol) enough times.

    • barca96
      February 4, 2011

      Haa yes. It was every Sunday at 9 or 10pm. However in 1999 they stopped showing La Liga highlights and instead dedicated the whole hour to Serie A. I think the reason for that was the dominacance of Seria A back then cause believe it or not, in the 90’s, Seria A was the best. All the best talents would go there.
      Lev, v. Gaal is not the only one to be blamed. The blame was on Bosman(free transfer) and Ajax itself. A lot of the players left on a free transfer to AC Milan, Juventus etc. after they not lost the 1996 CL final. I found that to be really disgusting back then. All those players were world class brought up by Ajax and yet they just left for free.

      I find it strange that you disliked v. Gaal so much at Barca. The only trophy that was missing was the CL. He was not so popular with the players and fans alike. Im not sure why. Yeah, I know he is a strict no nonsense guy but he does bring you trophies and attractive football(every where he goes! ). I actually stopped loving Barca for a while after V. Gaal got sacked(the 1st time). I found it really unfair the way they treated him. I think it was after the Valencia match in CL Semi final where we had to overcome a 4-1 or a big defecit and couldn’t beat them in the end. White hankerchiefs were out for the whole match and after the match a lot of the fans stayed back and shouting anti-v.Gaal songs. And at that time, v.Gaal was interviewed and he pretended not to hear any of that which is of course a lie. Poor guy.

      They should’ve given him more time. We had a strong team back then. We had like 2 world class players on each position. That was how we were known back then.
      THe only problem with vGaal was that he lacked the support of the players.
      When he came back for a 2nd stint, many players left. I think it was Rivaldo and Sergi. They couldn’t tolerate v.Gaal anymore.

      Since you’re an old timer, what’s your favorite match from the old days?
      Mine would be Camp Nou 2000 against Chelsea. Crazy match! Spanked them.

    • soccermomof4
      February 4, 2011

      Very interesting, Lev. How long did/have you live/lived in the states (other than long enough to pick up a liking for THAT ;-D NFL team)? And I think you can be condsidered figuratively if not literally a culé not because of where your bottom rests but where your heart is.

  19. blitzen
    February 4, 2011

    Great story, Kari! Hilarious that you just somehow randomly picked Argentina and Lionel Messi to follow. Who knew? Since we’re being all share-y about it, here is my story, in a much more abbreviated form than Kari’s. I’m a little different in that I came for the Xavi, and stayed for the Messi:

    I grew up in the exact middle of the Canadian Midwest, a small border “city” called Lloydminster. As you might expect, the only sport that really mattered was hockey. Canadian football, too. “Soccer” was something we only played in gym class in school, never showed up on any TV channel we got, and the only live match I ever saw was the annual grudge match between the doctors and the lawyers (my dad played on the doctors’ side). I wasn’t a very sporty kid, although I loved watching them on TV, so I never really felt I was missing anything.

    Eventually I moved to Toronto, and if you know anything about Toronto you know that this is the most multicultural city in the world. People of all stripes congegrate here, and a lot of them still follow their teams back home. The World Cup is a BIG DEAL in this city, especially where Brazil, Portugal, and Italy are involved. The 1998 WC is the first one I have clear memories of, but 2002 was the first one I watched from start to finish. (I live near Koreatown, and remember being woken up in the early dawn hours by screaming hordes of SK fans celebrating.) I was supporting Germany, but I found that I really enjoyed the way the Spanish team played as well. They were playing the ball on the ground, not booting it down the field like the English team. Several of the players that caught my eye turned out to be from a little team called Barcelona, especially a young man called Xavi Hernandez. I looked into it a little, and learned about the history of the club and the Dutch connection, but having no real access to La Liga games at the time, I didn’t pursue it. The only football games I saw on TV outside the international competitions were EPL, which is when I started liking Arsenal (mostly for Henry) and Liverpool.

    I kept on following the German and Spanish NT’s (especially Xavi and Puyol), and watching highlights of Barcelona games on YouTube (that Ronaldinho fellow was quite good, no? 😀 ), but it wasn’t until I got a fancy new computer in 2008 that I was first able through the magic of streaming video to see a live Barcelona game. I had just watched Spain win the Euro Cup and I was eager to see how my favourite players were doing with their club. Lucky for me I got there just in time for the treble season! Well, I’ve never looked back, and this team just gets better and better! And now that I have found this excellent community to share them with, things are just about perfect.

    • barcapanda
      February 4, 2011

      I also came for the Xavi and then stayed for the Messi (and everyone else)!

      Growing up in the American Midwest, I’d watch international competitions when they were televised on the “regular” stations–meaning usually the WC every 4 years. I loved them, but I grew up in the dark ages before the Internet, so I had no idea how to follow any more closely (unimaginative kid? maybe…) Now, I live in the South, which is not a hotbed of international/club “soccer” activity. But, I was housesitting for my boss during Euro 2008, and she just so happened to have a spectacular cable package. 🙂 My friend and I became fascinated by the man our British commentators called “Little Xavi,” and I was super excited when he won best player of that tournament.

      I decided I was going to follow club football, and I chose La Liga because of Xavi and the other Spaniards who had captured my heart in Euro 2008. I watched a few different clubs to see who I liked best, but no one came close to Barca. It was only fitting that “Little Xavi” is their maestro…couldn’t shake him!!

      I love hearing people’s fan stories! My friend (also a fan) and I say it’s like a secret society in the U.S. when you’re wearing your Barca jersey and someone winks at you or compliments you about it.

      PS, Kari–I was inspired by your lurker story, so I emerged from the darkness to post this. 😉

        • barcapanda
          February 5, 2011

          Thanks!! And count me as part of the female delurkers’ gang. 🙂

    • tinymich
      February 7, 2011

      Awww hi blitzen! I think I know you from Con La Roja (I post there just as Michelle), where I suspect we are probably two of The Most Unabashed Culers among la Madridista’s readership. 😉 Inspired by Kari’s delurking story, and by the fact that this seems to be the official Female Culers Delurking Thread, thought I’d say hi to a familiar name and make this my first official Contenty post here on BFB! (I’ve been lurking here since I found BFB only a couple months ago, thanks to a recommendation on totalBarca — what rock have I BEEN hiding under?!)

      I grew up a football fan desde pequeñita — one of my earliest memories is watching the 1986 Liverpool-Everton FA Cup Final, where I rooted for Everton because even back then I knew Liverpool were To Be Loathed. (Liverpool won that day. I still remember being annoyed.) I grew up a Manchester United supporter in a family that didn’t really have any allegiances; my father mostly watched football when it was convenient and on TV, so no one quite knows where I got this from. I remember following in the newspapers Alex Ferguson (not yet a Sir!)’s first league title with Eric Cantona and Bryan Robson, fell in love with David Beckham and the rest of the amazing United midfield crop from their cantera, and the day United won the 1999 European cup in Camp Nou is still among the best days of my life. I’ve always loved Manchester United, their commitment to youth, to attacking football and an attractive game, their history, their ethos, what they stand for, and the way they do things.

      I promise all of the above actually IS related to Barcelona! So, like I said, I’ve loved football all my life — and then, in 2005, I was posted to Barcelona on a job assignment, working for an EXTREMELY nationalista company. I fell in love with Catalunya and everything about it (at the rate I was being indoctrinated, it would be hard not to), and, um, our offices were up in Les Corts, a stone’s throw away from Camp Nou. A couple of times, the players actually had their concentraciones at the hotel my bosses were staying at! I think I have old photos somewhere of Puyi and Deco coming out of the elevators… and the only time I’ve ever seen my suave Basque director turn into a shy fangirl was when he went up to Ronaldinho at the cafe to ask for his autograph! (I was TOO SHY to go with him to ask for one too! I still kick myself about that!)

      So, in 2005, I was led to Barcelona and more or less told to love it. And I read up a bit about them, and they were SO easy to love, because they were SO SIMILAR to my beloved Manchester United. There was the same sense of history, the same sense of standing for something bigger than yourselves, the same commitment to youth development and cantera first-team promotions, the same gorgeous flowing attacking football. I looked at Ronaldinho flying down the left wing, and saw a 17-year-old Ryan Giggs doing the exact same thing. I looked at crazy-looking Carles Puyol, and I saw the same sort of all-in defending and Captain Marvelous commitment that I remembered seeing in Bryan Robson and Gary Pallister. I saw Lionel Messi, and… well, there is no parallel in English football that has ever existed for Leo Messi. 😉

      Anyway, long story short, I next started supporting La Roja because I didn’t have any other national team allegiances (the England team has long since stopped being primarily comprised of United players), and “look at how many Catalans are on the team! All the players from Barça, and Capdevila is Catalan too, and so is Fabregas! Visca Catalunya!” It’s tough living in the US where most people don’t CARE, but thanks to the magic of the internet, I can now always find a stream to watch Barça play even when it’s not on TV, and I get to watch Crackovia every week on Youtube, and I have blogs like BFB and CLR that help me keep up with the teams and players and put me in touch with people who are as obsessive about football as I am! Technology really IS making our lives better every day.

      I hope this wasn’t too long, but — hello to BFB and to my fellow female culers! 🙂

      • February 8, 2011

        I’m just sad some people will miss this story! Nice first post, tinymitch, and welcome to BFB! 😀

        • tinymich
          February 9, 2011

          I am too, particularly since I meant part of it for blitzen, and don’t know how to tell her about it! But I’m glad that at least you read it Kari 🙂 Nice to meet you too!

  20. Ryan
    February 4, 2011

    Nice article!

    My first tournament that I fully remember is Euro2004 (all I recall from 2002 was hating the refs), but mostly because I was in Barcelona visiting family. Why my uncle and cousins are members of Espanyol I can never understand! Anyways, everyone was pretty much consigned to losing (to the extent of not caring, at some bars) and considering past Spanish performances it’s understandable.

    I’ve followed every tournament since, and after Euro2008 (wohoo Spain!!) I finally noticed that I could watch streaming games online and decided to continue watching Xavi, Iniesta, and Puyol play via Barca. I had always supported the team, but could never watch any of the games. Now that I can I haven’t missed a game in about 3 years – and what a great 3 years it has been!

    • blaunero
      February 4, 2011

      I like your picture there. Holly e Benji were my favourite cartoon of the 90s. It’s nice to see someone other than me who knows about that show.
      Yes, the advent of myp2p.eu and soapcast has done done miracles. Even living 10,000km away I still can and do watch the games religiously.

      • Ryan
        February 5, 2011

        Holly e Benji is the Italian name I imagine? It was Oliver y Benji in Spain (well, in Barcelona anyway!) And yeah, I used to watch it all the time when I was a kid. That and Bola de Drac, of course!

        Seeing the parody of the theme song on Crackovia inspired me to change my picture. 😀

    • Lev
      February 4, 2011

      mmm so our starter who least needs rest wont start (valdes).

      i am very curious about the line-up for this game

  21. Helge
    February 4, 2011

    Nice story, Kari.
    I’m proud of you, that you kind a disliked CR from the very beginning. I think there are only very few girls who can claim that 🙂

    A short summary of my story:
    Started to follow football during summer holidays in France ’98. Was immediately a fan of Zidane, but also a fan of the Netherlands.
    Then, my interest in football focused on my homecountry and my local club, that’s Germany and Arminia Bielefeld.
    In 99/00, I realized that Frank de Boer, Coco, Overmars and Kluivert were all playing for Barca, and that Barca played beautiful football – albeit not being that succesful with regards to silverware. It was back then that I decided: Style > titles.
    I started to follow Barca regularly when I got Pay TV in 2004 (good old times, now there’s no possibility of watching Spanish league football on German TV at all).
    In 2006, after passing the A-levels, the whole class travelled to Malgrat de Mar, about 30m away from Barcelona. I went to Barcelona by train, visited the stadium (unfortunately only a short tour, I’ve not seen the complete museum or the player’s area) and bought a jersey in the official Botiga, without a name/number on it. It’s for eternity!
    Since 2007, I have to follow Barca via stream, except of CL matches…

    May I ask you two questions, Kari?
    Is your sister still a Serie A and Brazil fan? My sister is no football fan at all, neither is someone else from my family :/
    How old are you? I’m 24.

    • barca96
      February 4, 2011

      Helge, we were successful in the late 90’s. We just weren’t very strong in CL. We won back-to-back titles with v.Gaal and with style. And Madrid in those days were strong.

      Btw, it’s Philip Cocu. Coco is another player from Italy. He played at Barca though but not in 1999. He played later for Barca.

      • Helge
        February 4, 2011

        Yeah, I meant Cocu. Actually, I don’t even know Coco 😀

        Well, we didn’t win a trophy when I started to watch them. 98/99 was the last trophy, but I still admired the style of Barca in the title-less seasons.
        I also remember that I didn’t like Xavi at all when I first saw him, he was too slow, not that technically gifted. And I was only into fast and/or ‘joga bonito’ players then. Times are changing!

  22. Josep
    February 4, 2011

    Hah I remember a couple weeks ago asking people this very question so I already new a short storied version of this!

    As for me, I was big into american sports growing up but played this one for a while. I grow up in a largely white-minority town so I was always taught that it was a Mexican dominated sport, and when I found out it wasn’t I was amazed 😀

    I also latched on similarly the year after the WC. Similar story, but not Messi in particular.. in fact the main thing about Barca was…

    FIFA 2007. I would always pick Barca, and my favorite player became Eto’o. I talked so much trash. I would go for 4-5 goals per game with him. After 4, I would get in a friends face and say one for every later. If I managed the 5th, I’d say apostrophe too!

    Also my disdain for Ronaldinho. The first WC I watched was 94, because it was here. I don’t remember too much. Then 98 I remember a lot. But 2002, I think I latched onto Ronaldinho and liked him a lot. my brother who knew nothing of the sport knew his name so in my strive to be smarter than him I looked into him more. I wouldn’t really follow it, because on paper following isn’t as great as watching.

    In fact, my first season of being a big fan was the year we opened up with a loss vs. Racing. 😀 I think 6 trophies later I was happy. I would watch matches when I could the year before, but that year I watched every single match barring 2-3. Streams were all the more prevalent, and I was a justin.tv master.

    Anyways, FIFA was actually the main thing that brought me to this team, surprisingly. WC would probably be the second factor. Anyone want to play some FIFA 07? 😀

    • Josep
      February 4, 2011

      ooh also, like Kari I had a weird liking of Fabregas. little did I know the back story.. my friends would always pick Arsenal, they had a good squad. and thats where I came to like Walcott especially, and Fabregas was on the bench. We especially liked how they announced certain names like INIESTA or HENRY!! haha what an awesome game.

  23. blaunero
    February 4, 2011

    Ok, now I feel old. The first tournament I really remember is the 1990 World Cup. I remember the opening song (un estate italiana) and most of the tournament. I was 7 and I thought it was the best tournament ever. Now I’m wiser and I can tell you that that was the worst tournament ever, even worse than the South African joke we had last year, but anyways. Been a Barca fan since I learned at a very young age that our poor local team from the communist era had somehow managed to hold the 1986 Barca of Terry Venables to two draws, but can’t recall any games before 1994. Of course my earliest club football memories (besides the local club) are all of them Milan related, the ’91 Serie A chase, the ’93 weird loss to Marseilles, the fantastic victory vs the blaugrana in ’94 (what a game that was, what a game), the ’95 loss to that great Ajax team and so on and so forth. I didn’t start to watch Barca regularly until the van Gaal years but by then the Dream Team era was only a dream.
    Oh and I lived in Ottawa for 10 years prior to moving out to BC in 2010. Talk about coincidences, eh?

    • Lev
      February 4, 2011

      yeah I remember 1990 too, unfortunately. Holland was tipped to win the thing but we sucked ass so bad.

      Remember being upset after the humiliation against Milan in ’94 – Cruijff attributed it to the players partying too much after winning the league in the same week.

      • blaunero
        February 4, 2011

        I remember that game like it was yesterday, though I was only 11. Milan was missing Baresi and Billy Costacurta in the center of defense. Cruijff had for years made fun of Italian football and if I remember correctly had said before the match that this would be a victory for football. It was the most extraordinary game I’ve ever seen. The 6-2 drubbing of Real Madrid in ’09 was great and, because I was old enough to appreciate what was happening, probably a better team performance. But that May day in ’94 is still burning in my memory as the finest team display ever, especially given the fact that it was a not a league game but a final. I fear the only way for this great Barca side of Xav, Iniesta and Messi to mark its place in posterity is to go to the CL final again and absolutely thrash an opponent (hopefully Inter) by four or more goals.

        • Lev
          February 4, 2011

          One of the things Cruijff loves to say is that Italians can never beat you, but you can still lose when playing them.

          Generally this is true, but on that day the Italians whupped our ass. The Savicevic goal was glorious.

          Don’t agree that we need to thrash an opponent in the final by four or more goals, though. For one, the AC Milan of the 90s never had a triple, let alone 6 trophies in one year. Secondly they have consistently humiliated each and all comers by such high scorelines as we have been doing the last 3 seasons (although if I recall correctly they also had a manita against EE, hehe)

          • blaunero
            February 4, 2011

            Cruijff has great oneliners. He is right too on most occasions. The Italians have a different footballing culture. For the longest time it didn’t matter that their NTs, for example, had overall less technical ability than the Spanish NT or the French NT, or even the English NT. They would still win the WC while the rest were left to wonder. Before 2008 Spain hadn’t beaten Italy in a tournament in god knows how long. I have no idea why that is. Man for man, Spain has produced just as many good players as Italy has, yet it is Italy that has reaped the rewards. In ’08 I think the Spanish won the title when they finally beat Italy, and at penalties too, and they haven’t looked back since then. Surprisingly Italy has been on a sharp decline. For a century they produced the best defenders in the world, Scirea, Gentile, Baresi, Maldini, Cannavaro, Nesta, etc etc, but now I’m not sure what’s happened. It’s like a generation gap, where the Italian players born in the second half of the 80s are simply not good enough. I guess we’ll see what the 90s kids will do but I’m really skeptical.
            PSS. WTF is this ad that keeps coming up? Finish detergent? That’s so bloody lame it’s embarrassing, but most importantly it’s annoying. I have to shut down the sound because I just don’t know how to ignore the damn thing.

          • Ryan
            February 4, 2011

            Blaunero, I actually was more excited from that Italy-Spain win in Euro2008 than after they won the final or even the World Cup!

            That quarterfinals curse was so pervasive in the Spanish way of thinking, that by finally going through – by beating Italy and through PKs no less! – everything else seemed to fall in place.

            Those PKs sure were exciting too – huzzah for Cesc scoring the winning one and for Casillas stopping two Italian attempts. 😀

  24. blitzen
    February 4, 2011

    I just received my copy of Barca: Estem Fent Historia in the mail, and I am thrilled! It is gorgeous. I so did not expect to see a shirtless Iniesta on the cover! 😀

    Aside from the gorgeous pictures, the captions are going to help me improve my fledgling Catalan immensely. The dressing-room beverage of choice last year seems to have been Freixenet, but I think I will just pick up a nice bottle of rioja and spend the evening perusing this gem.

  25. K_legit
    February 4, 2011

    Strangely, my reason for being a fan of Barça are as much socio-political as they are for football…When I was in high school I was an avid reader of history specifically the aftermaths of the two world wars and being form a country as I am that was ruled by imperialistic powers for over 400 years prior to achieving independence I nurtured a deep sense of brotherhood for the victims of oppression and supression; where they are not allowed to follow their culture-the innate thing that binds their people .
    Therefore, it was only destiny that I should read ‘Homage to Catalonia’ side by side with ‘My Experiments with Truth’. I chose to follow Barça because i believed they stood for freedom of expression, for the thinkers, for the artisans and for everything that is free in this world. I chose to follow FC Barcelona because they are a representation of the Catalan people and what they so desire and what my country and my people got after years of oppression and torture: Sovereignity.
    On the football side of things, it was the ’98 WC and being as young as I was I was quickly drawn to the team that was supposedly the best on the planet- Brazil and one player in particular grasped my psuche..the bow-legged genius Rivaldo and I remember his play very well. In fact it was post-WC that I actually realised he played for Barça as well..destiny? maybe it was..but that’s my story

    • barca96
      February 4, 2011

      I used to call rivaldo a Ronaldo wannabe and a fake ronaldo.haha. I was so mad at bArca for letting ronaldo leave, I told myself that I will hate the next braZilian signing. He turns out to be a bArca legend. And contributed more to bArca than my idol Ronaldo did

      • Lev
        February 4, 2011

        Rivaldo was an awesome player, but he always cared too much about Rivaldo. The only time I really saw him play for the team was during WC 2002

  26. February 4, 2011

    barcastuff@
    Barcelona B line-up (official): Mino – Montoya Bartra Fontas Planas – Rafinha Ilie Abraham – EduOriol Soriano Saul

    • Jnice
      February 4, 2011

      Midfield is terrible and Saul and Edu Oriol up top means we are in for some frustrating times.

  27. outerspacedout
    February 4, 2011

    I did NOT know that Blitzen was a girl.

    Kari: On rather gouging your eyeballs out than watching Twilight. High five.

    On Pepe joining even for free: NO WAY. NO FRICKIN WAY. Even if he wasn’t a Madrid player, I hate him more as a thug than van Bommel and De Jong combined. Anyway anyone from Madrid- except Higuain- yuck, no, don’t want, either sucks even in comparison to our subs (Gago, Benzema, etc) or is extremely unpleasant (Ramos, Ronaldo, Carvalho, Di Maria, etc) anyway. Oh, and I don’t mind Oezil either but with Iniesta, 3M Afellay and an up-and-coming Thiago nope. Anyone else, never in a million years.

    On Josep and FIFA: Funnily enough a similar story for me too. Never thought it would have been the same for ANYONE else as in them becoming a diehard fan through a game. It was FIFA 99 for me though. I’d have been like 7 or 8 when I played it, in the early years of the decade, and after first choosing to play with the likes of Arsenal and then some other team I think Bayer Leverkusen or something because they had the highest stats across the board, I ended up choosing Barca to play with after a while (they had a weird stats thing, very skewed in one way which I liked, high overall but massive in one bar and less in the rest, I think it was attack or midfield or something) either way when I played them, I played best with them. And it felt the best and most comfortable. So I always chose Barca to play with on FIFA and since I didn’t get any football cable (or didn’t have the channels then, dunno) they became my favorite side, though I wasn’t much of a fan. When I went to Malaysia in 2006 during the WC actually and started watching club football and Ronaldinho a bit even, occasional games only though mostly in the CL, and then over time watching bit by bit more and more (it being my school years, with my A’ levels in May/June 2009, was really hard to watch games at 3am in the morning with busy studies). I watched rather often and was a solid fan in 2007/08 which was quite a depressing season, watched quite often in 2008/09 watching more and more often as the season went on and seeing most of the second half of the season, and then when my exams ended in June 2009 really began becoming hard-core full-on watch-every-game-I-can follow-every-statistic-and-blog fan.

    Speaking of statistics btw, our three forwards, Messi Villa and Pedro, have scored 47 goals between them which is one less than Real Madrid’s whole team have scored in the league, according to the article Kevin put up.

    Oh and yeah I watched Argentina during the WC and liked Messi in the tournament, I knew of him from before from preferring Barca and knowing that Messi was a special talent that played for Barca and liking what little I had seen of him, and his play in the WC reinforced the notion of how amazing he was. I also saw that Argentina game during the WC and still feel angry when I remember the quarter-final (though weirdly enough, I had fallen in love with that German 2006 team during the WC and was supporting them in the penalty shootout- I later stopped after the WC and went back to supporting Spain and Argentina, so at the time I was happy Germany won, as much as I was utterly furious and bemused at Pekerman putting on Cruz instead of Messi and giving away the match- weird mix of feelings but in hindsight I strongly wish it had been Argentina that went through).

    Also, for those who didn’t read the whole article I mentioned in the paragraph before last (its a great article, do check it out), an interesting bit:

    “Back in 2004 Barcelona went on a spying mission to Tenerife to take one last look at a promising young winger by the name of Jeffren Suarez before signing him. Killing time in the city before heading home there was a chance meeting with a youth football coach and Barca contact on the Island who asked what he thought was an obvious question: ‘And you’ll be taking Pedro too?’ ‘Who is Pedro?’ came back the reply.
    The original ‘Who is Pedro?’ question had the Barcelona scouts cancelling their flight out of Tenerife so they could watch the new target in action the following day.”

    Wow, Pedro was a side-effect of trying to sign Jeffren? Wow.

    • outerspacedout
      February 4, 2011

      Oh and I forgot. The rest of the Pandiani interview, the part which Goal.com didn’t include:

      “He should pay the €602 fine we’ve been given [for fans kicking the balls onto the pitch when Real were attacking ] – it was him who kicked the balls into the crowd [while practicing his free-kicks pre-match].

      “At Real Madrid they should think why Barcelona are applauded when they visit a rival and why they are whistled.”

      ‘It was him who kicked the balls into the crowd’ when practicing his free kicks. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA

      • Jnice
        February 4, 2011

        Funny, but true. He really did kick them into the crowd. I have to find the video.

      • Lev
        February 4, 2011

        That’s classic!

        Ronaldo asked him how much he got paid to which he reportedly said “I don’t know but when it comes to titles we have been pretty even lately”.

        forgot where I got that from, could very well have read it here on BfB

      • Helge
        February 4, 2011

        He was practicing his brilliant freekick strategy, but to not make it too hard for him, without a wall. Still he smashed them 5 adn 8 m above the crossbar 😀

  28. February 4, 2011

    Ottawa! Canada! Cules!

    As a fellow Canadian Cule (albeit from the slightly warmer climes of Waterloo, Ontario), I know all about the passion and pain of trying to follow a team that your local broadcasters and compatriots don’t care a lick about. The crap feeds, friends’ blank stares, cheering at odd times of the day…

    Until GolTV Canada signed the deal to start broadcasting all Barca Liga games, I would write them nasty emails every time they chose a Madrid game instead. Last season, when they showed the EE game over Barca’s title-clinching final, I nearly exploded. Got an email back from their president of operations on that one, though.

    In any case, that’s all to say: good luck in here and keep flying the Blaugrana flag in the nation’s capital! It’ll catch on someday, I swear.

  29. Eklavya
    February 4, 2011

    Ok, here goes:

    I lived in cricket playing, EPL loving country. None of my immediate friends/family watched football. A few of my cousins supported teams but they were either Liverpool or ManU. And none of them followed their team properly. CL matches came waaay too late at night and on top of it they were during week-days.

    I did PLAY football though. Infact, I was on of the top 3 players in my year batch with only two guys better than me! At that young age, girls and guys played together and I usually just beat them with my speed.

    I never used to WATCH football matches. They were waaay too long and I found them boring. The only sport tournament I’d seen was the 2002 Cricket WC, when India reached the final and lost to Australia. I remember all the intense matches that we went through to reach the finals (India vs Kenya and India vs. Pakistan of course).

    My father, when he was young, used to play and watch a lot of footy. One day he was watching the 2004 Euro final. I also watched. I was pretty darn freakin’ bored. I remember the best part being some random dude running on the field and throwing stuff at a player lol.

    Anways, a year later I moved to Europe, in a country I knew nothing about and where everyone spoke a language that I didn’t even knew existed. I was 9 years old at that time. I remember the first day everyone had to do a little introduction and I said that I enjoyed playing football. After the teacher translated my English into French, a guy asked which players I liked and which team I supported.
    I gaped at the teacher and told her that I didn’t know any players.

    Culture Fail #1.

    Later on, in our Gym class, people seperated into two groups: those who wanted to play football and those who wanted to play Basketball. Naturally I went for football. The gap between my and the other guys’ TECHNIQUE was epic.
    If you haven’t grown up in Europe (or latin America), then your technical skills are pretty much crapistic. Sorry for generalising here. It was then that I understood the difference between just running fast with the ball and actually dribbling with technique.

    During my years in Europe, I’ve played against people who could easily get into La Masia and I’d go as far to say that they could become superstars. No, Im not exagerating here.

    Geneva is one of the most cosmopolitician cities in world because of the World Health Organisation and UNICEF’S Headquarters being located there (Unicef’s HQ is in NYC since a while now though). As a result, there used to be kids from all over the world. Lots of Portugueses and Italians played football. Only a few months ago I played vs some 12-13 years olds with such technique that it was impossible not get nutmegged or thrown in the wrong direction. I’m not even mentioning about the runs and all that stuff. It’s like they were born with it.

    Needless to say, my self confidence was shattered into billions of nano-microscopic pieces. It’s pretty sad, but stopped playing for a while. I hated being here and I just wanted to go back home.

    Anyways, a year later came the 2006 CL final. Being asked whether I preferred Barca or Arsenal, I just Barca simply because I had been there during new year and I found their funny shaped building funny.

    At this point I knew 2 football players: Ronaldinho and Beckham. Beckham because of the movie “Bend it like Beckham” and Ronaldinho because he was the star those days. So I watched the final because everyone was so hyped about it and I felt happy because the team I was cheering for had won. It was then that I learned another player’s name: Marquez. During the final, he had had a shot which was almost on target and the replay showed the name on his shirt which means “to score” in French. 🙂 I was a tad bit dissapointed Ronaldinho didn’t score though.

    Then came the 2006 World Cup! Now THIS was Real! Everyone was talking about THIS awesome player or THAT awesome player and I was the only dork who didn’t know many players. There were countries flags all over the place and all the Portugueses doing their usual pre-match shouting.

    This time I watched much more matches but I still don’t have much memories of them. I think I was cheering for Brazil because Ronaldinho played for them. Unfortunately, I was in a plane when the France – Brazil match was being played. During the flight they announced that Brazil had lost. A huge cheer went up and I was the only one dissapointed. Of course, I remember the final because of the epic Headbutt and all the parodies that came along. Once the tourney ended so did much of my football watching.

    A few years later, my friends were talking about a Barca vs ManU match. It was the ’08 semi final 2nd leg day. I remembered Barca and wanted to cheer and watch the match but I couldn’t because I had an exam the next day.

    I got to know the score through the post-match highlights and the host mentioning that “a key player can often change such games”. That’s when I remembered Ronnie and searched about him on Google. I found out that he wasn’t playing much those days and was often injured. I was a bit sad but my exams kept me busy till the summer holidays in July/ August.

    That year there was also the Euro08 happening right in my backyard. I went to FanZone for the final and cheered for Spain. (I was also there 2 years later for the 2010 WC with some 3000 other supporters – one of the best nights I’ve ever had!)

    Coming back to 08, I was reading news on the internet and in Today’s News section there was a post about Ronaldinho officially leaving Barca. I was sooooo heartbroken that my favorite player that I barely got to see was already leaving my favorite club. He was the player I loved and cared about. I felt like I had lost a part of my heart 🙁

    By this time, I was aware of many more players mostly because of playing FIFA07 in my PS2. Messi was my 2nd favorite then.

    So I searched Ronaldinho on Google and I found this brilliant article on Ronaldinho’s rise and decline. I am of course talking about Kxevin’s brillant article on R10’s departure.

    I liked the blog and lurked there during the transfer season to get to know what all was happening. It was then that I started getting used to Footy terminology. CBs and Center-Backs and Full-Backs were very confusing to me too. 😀

    One day I finally deceided to post a comment and tried to make it sound very intelligent by asking what formation we would be playing under the new coach. I got a heart attack when someone wrote that it was a “good question” 🙂

    So, I started watching matches regularly, starting with the loss to Numancia and the draw with Racing at the start of the season.

    I learned a lot and very fast, mostly thanks to theoffside.

    We all know what happened next. We won everything and I was overwhelmed with joy. I was also a regular commenter by then. You all know the rest!

    Sorry this became such a long comment but I had to write my story after reading Kari’s 🙂

    PS, the Call of Duty noob part made really L.O.L!!! 😀

    • Jnice
      February 4, 2011

      Nice.

      I think it’s cool how people’s football knowledge can expand so dramatically within a couple of years.

    • Josep
      February 4, 2011

      Yes FIFA07 is the best!! We should play somehow. Also, you’re a female? Surprised me.

      I hate FIFA11 guys just throwing that out there. FIFA WC 2010 is ten times better.

      • Eklavya
        February 4, 2011

        Im a MALE!!! When did I say I was girl?!? Im the latest victim of gender confusion XD

          • blitzen
            February 4, 2011

            Gender is such a cultural construct. Cue SoMa post… 😀

          • soccermomof4
            February 4, 2011

            erm…I’m pretty sure that I didn’t say it was a cultural construct, I just stated that with names from different languages and with ambiguous screen names it’s hard to determine a person’s gender in defense of Kari’s little mistake….don’t bring me into this mess y’all have gotten yourselves in! ;-D

          • Jnice
            February 4, 2011

            I think blitzen meant a post from the admin SoMa, SoMa4. 🙂

          • soccermomof4
            February 4, 2011

            Oh good–something I can’t be blamed for :-D.

        • February 4, 2011

          I could just edit your comment now, Eklavya, as revenge from the last posts (Euler comment + other ones), but seeing as I have a heart. *flashbacks to last couple of posts*

          Well, I have a heart, but I don’t really have a conscious conscience … 😀

          • blitzen
            February 4, 2011

            Do you mean you don’t have a conscience? Or do you mean you are actually unconscious most of the time? 😛

          • February 4, 2011

            Here’s the thing, blitzen, grammar is like EE, overrated but a necessity to have around.

    • soccermomof4
      February 4, 2011

      Wow, Eklavya! Fascinating!

      I’m older than most of you so you may not find it as incredible as I ( my first “computer” was an account in college on a VAX (mainframe) and the internet was in its embryonic stage), but I find it absolutely outragiously awesome and mindboggling that I am conversing with people from all over the world and it’s all because of a football team.

      • blitzen
        February 4, 2011

        Sweetie, my first computer was a Vic 20. I shared it with my older brother. It had a cassette drive.

        • soccermomof4
          February 4, 2011

          My first video game was Pong and I absolutely rocked at Space Invaders (take that you FIFA 07 dudes!)

          • blitzen
            February 4, 2011

            I liked Missile Command. And Pitfall!

    • Helge
      February 4, 2011

      haha, and I thought you were actually Swiss 😀

  30. Lev
    February 4, 2011

    @barca96 (i will reply here bc your reply to my original post are so far up the thread)

    yeah, i know Bosman and Ajax are also to blame. And the new CL format and the end of restricting teams to 3 foreigners on the pitch have also conspired to make money even way more important in football than it used to be.

    But what really annoyed me of Van Gaal is that he moved to Barça and tried to recreate his Ajax team by bringing in all his previous players (+ Cocu and Zenden). He should have just gotten Kluivert, who was the perfect striker not named Ronaldo, and maybe one more. It really made me love Barça more when I found out that the culés did not like that either, and this is when I started to learn what Barça stands for and why it is més que un club.

    Also his behavior has always been pretty ridiculous. Do people outside of Holland know that he wrote a book last year titled “The complete human being”? (idea behind it being that everybody should be like him…)

    Do all new Barça fans on this website, I would like to share this link with you, so that you know that not all Barça trainers have behaved with the class that you have grown used to from Rijkaard and Pep http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do5-ZNVjZPY

    I don’t really have any favorite matches from the Van Gaal days, and of course after Van Gaal left we were awful. Him coming back didn’t help either, lol. But yeah Barça – Chelsea comes to mind but even more so the 3-3 against Manchester United at Camp Nou (free kick and bicicleta by Rivaldo). The one game I would have loved to see live was Barça – Valencia with Rivaldo’s hattrick.

    Although I don’t think much of Bobby Robson as a trainer, his season was the Ronaldo season. I still regret that he left for Internazionale, because Ronaldo was so friggin awesome.

    And I used to really love Romario and Stoichkov (Laudrup was amazing too, but a bit too much of a choirboy for my taste). Of course Romario never loved us back and Laudrup went to the enemy after falling out with Cruijff. Stoichkov is still culé though 🙂

    @soccermomo I lived in Bridgeport, OH back in 94/95. 45 minutes out of Blitzburgh, this part of Ohio is pretty much Steeler country.

    @Barca96 btw I am from Rotterdam West (Bogarde komt uit Witte Dorp, niet uit Kralingen! lol) but I have moved around a lot, the States, Ireland, France, Canada and now Venezuela. How is living in Malaysia and what are you doing there? I went to Singapore once, it was beautiful.

    @Mossi marhaba SaHbi, Afellay is de nieuwe held van Barcelona!

    • Jnice
      February 4, 2011

      Damn, Lev. You’ve lived in 100 different places. That’s tight.

      • MoSSi
        February 4, 2011

        Van Gaal is crazy, Luca Toni said when he was at Bayern that Van Gaal took off his pants to show them he had cojones because they didn’t play a good first half..

        Aaaand some say he did that to show them he was not aroused, because of their poor football display..

        Choukran Asahbie! Ik hoop het man, ik hoop het!

    • blitzen
      February 4, 2011

      Blitzburgh? There is a town named after me? 😀

  31. February 4, 2011

    Whoa!! Go to class for a couple of hours and there are so many comments to read! 😀

    Gonna go through all of ’em now.

  32. Lev
    February 4, 2011

    btw @soccermomo

    “And I think you can be condsidered figuratively if not literally a culé not because of where your bottom rests but where your heart is.”

    I think this is where European and Americans mentalities differ when it comes to sports. As much as I love barça, my love for barça cannot possibly be the same as a born and bred culé.

    • soccermomof4
      February 4, 2011

      “I think this is where European and Americans mentalities differ when it comes to sports. As much as I love barça, my love for barça cannot possibly be the same as a born and bred culé.”

      In the US we have such a relatively short history, and are comprised of people of so many different nationalities that we tend to not understand those mentalities and ties therefore underestimating and maybe trivializing them. We are used to picking our allegiances . In my neck of the woods we are mainly Ravens fans yet some of my friends support other teams (why I can’t fathom). I guess ties run deeper where allegiances are born and not picked. That being said, I connot choose to be a Catalan, but I can choose to support this team as do you. That’s as culé as we can get. So maybe we can be semi-cule, or demi cule.

    • soccermomof4
      February 4, 2011

      BTW, did you root for Ned. in the WC? Just curious not judgemental(although those Van Bommel/DeJong fouls….) 🙂

  33. February 4, 2011

    @Lev “Remember the bad times, treasure the good times

    So, so true. This won’t last forever!

    @Helge: Unfortunately, my sister doesn’t follow Juve anymore. Actually, I don’t think she really watches any football in her free time anymore, unless I’m around or it’s an international tournament. She’s off doing her own thing (her profession is an engineer, so I guess she’s too busy? I’ve never really asked her…)

    She’s aware of my football obsession and tends to ask me what’s up in the world of football whenever we talk. Brazil is still her team though, and she supported them during the past WC, and she reminisces often about how good Ronaldo was every know and again.

    Ah, well.

    As for age, don’t you know it’s a woman’s greatest secret? 😛 Haha, I love the ambiguity surrounding a woman’s age, so I’ll keep it at that. 🙂 I’ll give you a couple of hints though: I’m younger than you and Messi, older than Justin Bieber, and I’m studying at a Canadian University. In other words, I’m somewhere between 16 and 23 (Gosh, I’m so mean 😛 )

    You’re the same age as one of my other sisters though (I can give away her age. Heh, heh, heh)

    @blitzen: Xavi, eh? I always thought Casillas was the reason you got into football (Oh yes I did 😛 )Lots of Xavi fans here though.

    I so did not expect to see a shirtless Iniesta on the cover!

    Surprise! 😀 Barca: Estem Fent Historia is just awesome, isn’t it? I’m actually gonna look over it again today, just because. I loved the cell-phone moment in the dressing room 😉

    @blaunero: “Oh and I lived in Ottawa for 10 years prior to moving out to BC in 2010. Talk about coincidences, eh?”

    Fellow Canadian, whooot! Rainy BC, huh? Well, at least you got away from mountains of snow. Haven’t see you comment here, welcome!

    @Josep: “I was a justin.tv master.”

    I was too! Until I saw the light and found Veetle 😀 (I may diss justin.tv, but it’s always a solid back up. Definitely in my top 5)

    @barcapanda: I can inspire people?! Wow, that means a lot, barcapanda. Pep’s life coaching videos must be working! Thanks and welcome! 🙂

    @bcurrie: Another Canadian! High five! I’ve seen your work at the Barca Offside; keep representin’ and keep up the good work! And yeah, someday, people here will understand! Someday! *clenches Barca scarf while passionately looking out into the sunset*

    @Eklavya: PS, the Call of Duty noob part made really L.O.L!!!

    Yes! Someone got the joke! I was getting a little worried there 😀

    On a more important note, I really, really enjoyed reading that. Similar in a lot of ways, huh? I have a soft spot for Geneva because a cousin of mine visited recently and told me so much about it (now I really want to go..)

    A lot of people here are mentioning Euro 2008, and I actually thought about adding it in (I was supporting Spain (duh! Gotta support mah Barca boys, people!)), but I figured this was long enough as it is 😀

    • Helge
      February 4, 2011

      And I already feared you set me on the ignore-list, I shouldn’t have asked for your age, my bad 🙂

      Anyway, thanks for decrypting the hints, I obviously know my age and Leo Messi’s (I even know his birthday, but not the one of my uncle…). My knowledge doesn’t include Justin Bieber, though.
      My guess is you’re closer to 23 than to 16, so you’re closer to the top, another thing that distinguishes you from the EE.

      PS: I’m delighted that your post inspired so many people to write down their story of becoming a Barca supporter. This place is sooo unique!

      • February 4, 2011

        I’m even more delighted than you are! So many interesting stories–I wouldn’t have guessed a lot of the things they said. So cool!

        And I already feared you set me on the ignore-list

        Who’s to say I won’t? 😀 You already dissed my “precious” Bojangles a little while ago, so you’re on thin ice, pal… 🙂

        Honestly though, I’m not that sensitive, so no need to worry or apologize. Being the power-hungry fool I am, I just like the power I have over people with regards to age. All the people I know, know how old I am, so I haven’t been able to “hide” it before. But here? Not a soul knows. And I love it. Muhahahaha! 😀 <— is dangerously close to become a tyrant.

        • Jnice
          February 4, 2011

          But Kari, you told me you were 36 yesterday and now you’re telling everyone you aren’t? I fear the wrath of The Yaya may be unforgiving this time. :shivers

          • February 4, 2011

            Ah, but I told you I was 60 a couple of months ago. Your fault for believing a tyrant. You know what “they” say: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”. The Yaya understands the saying very well–he is “they” after all.

        • Eklavya
          February 4, 2011

          You can’t go to university at 16 or 17 and I doubt you’re “only” 18. Since, you said you’re younger than Messi that means it’s between somewhere between 19 and 22. Probably 21, right? 😀

          • February 4, 2011

            You can go to university at 17 in Canada; it all depends on you completing 30 “credits” over the duration of your high school life. I could have also skipped a grade, but you’ll never know! Never, I say! 😀

            (And even if you keep guessing, I still won’t tell you 😛 )

          • blitzen
            February 4, 2011

            I graduated high school at 17 and could have started uni the same year if I had wanted to, so it’s definitely possible. Of course where I grew up we didn’t have that stupid Grade 13 thing.

        • Helge
          February 5, 2011

          And what if I visited you in Ottawa to find out? 😀

          But be careful, you might have given me another hint involuntarily – I won’t tell you which, that’ll be MY secret!

          haha

  34. justsayin
    February 4, 2011

    I’m 43 yr old mom living in NJ and have been a fan of soccer for at least 30 years. My Dad had season ticket to the now defunct Cosmos for almost 10 years and he’d drag me, my brother and my mom. Yes dragged, because we hated it at first and brought magazines to read at the games, but in a few short years we ended up huge fans and never missed a game, rain or shine. My parents are also from Spain so it wasn’t a stretch that my Dad was a La Liga fan, he’s club of choice; Barca. But, I’m a girl with my thoughts and opinions so he’s opinion wasn’t going to sway mine. But let’s face it, if you watch the NT play and if you’re a a true soccer fan who loves the beautiful game, there’s no way you don’t fall in love with Barca, the fact that they’re a humble and gracious team is a bonus. In April, for the first time, we are taking the family to Madrid-Valencia-Barcelona specifically to catch a game at Camp Nou. A trip of a lifetime and we’re very excited and honored to have the opportunity to see the Dream Team play because the kind of soccer they are playing today is rarely seen and will probably never happen again in my lifetime. I can post pics of our trip if there is interest.

    • soccermomof4
      February 4, 2011

      Ooh! justsayin is a girl too! (that makes me, soccermom, Kari, Blitzen, Merge, Linda, Corrine, and justsayin at least)

      And I am so envious of your upcoming trip! Please post pics so we can live a dream vicariously through you.

      • justsayin
        February 4, 2011

        Yes, I’m a girl! 🙂 And a busy one at that, so you’ll have to forgive my bad grammar and poor spelling as I’m usually multi-tasking while typing so I don’t have much time to re-read and correct my posts. I’d be happy to post pics when the time comes. Coincidentally, we’re in Madrid during the Classico but don’t have tickets. We’ll be at the Osasuna game on 4/20 in Barcelona. Since Barca just qualified for the CDR also during the week we are there, we’re trying to secure tickets to that game as well, but I’m sure they will be very expensive if not impossible to find. So, while we are in Spain, Barcelona is playing 3 times, twice vs. Madrid!

    • Jnice
      February 4, 2011

      Another New Jerseyan. Cool. 😀

      And I’m sure the admins would love you to post pics and talk about your trip in April.

      • justsayin
        February 4, 2011

        They’re calling for another storm tomorrow. Ugh!
        What part of Jersey, if I may ask?

        • Jnice
          February 4, 2011

          Ugh is right. Hate this weather.

          East Windsor (Central NJ) right now, but Jersey City for most of my life.

          What about yourself?

          • justsayin
            February 4, 2011

            Down the shore, for the last 12+ years.
            Born and raised in Newark (Down Neck), … back in the good ‘ole days, before all the crime and such.

          • Jnice
            February 4, 2011

            I worked in Newark for a summer, always had to be on the lookout lol.

    • February 4, 2011

      Yes. Very cool. I have tips n’stuff if you need them, as well as advice if you want to take a pass on hotels, and rent an apartment in Barcelona (highly recommended!).

      • justsayin
        February 4, 2011

        Absolutely! Thanks. I have a travel agent (friend of mine in the US, who is from Spain) who booked hotels and will be booking train tixs. I know that the only thing that can’t be changed at this point is our plane tixs without a penalty , but I think the rest can be changed. So, any advice is very much appreciated. One recommendation would be where to go see Madrid V Barca, as we are in Madrid at the time, but don’t have tickets to that game. We’re planning on going to the Bernabeu to get a sense of the atmosphere, but then we need a Barca friendly pub to watch the game!

        • Sheena
          February 4, 2011

          When I visited Madrid, there really wasn’t any ‘Barca friendly’ pub. I got death threats when I wore my Barca scarf and went to a random pub to watch Barca vs Almeria.

          That being said, it’s pretty fun being the sole Barca fan in a Madridista populated area. And hearing them groan every time we scored (EIGHT!) while I cheered, was immensely satisfying 🙂

          • Ryan
            February 5, 2011

            I saw a tv special that documented a Barcelona penya in Madrid, but I imagine they’re pretty discrete!

  35. soccermomof4
    February 4, 2011

    Well, the entire starting 11 minus Puyol( + Milito, Masche, and 3M (and a couple of guys to the U21) has been called up for friendlies. Thankfully, the friendlies seem to be in Europe so no serious distances to be traveled. I’m glad Pep rested most of them on Wednesday.

  36. Blow-Grenade
    February 4, 2011

    Lovely post Kari!!! I loved that Argentina team which had Requilme as its playmaker, and Juan Pablo Sorin as the captain. I still remember those games, and feeling sad when Argentina lost. Glad to see a Canuck become an Admin. Look forward to your posts.

    • February 4, 2011

      Thanks a lot, B-G! I’ll try to do our country proud! 🙂

  37. Chris M Arsenal Fan
    February 4, 2011

    Great story there i enjoyed it. Its always good to hear how someone outside of football was captured by the beautiful game and is a crazy fan of it now. I loved when you brought up the France v England game in Euro04 (Im French!), it was a classic and one game that almost gave me a heart attack lol. A lot of people including myself always say that you can support whoever you want as long as your not supporting them for only trophies, but you must support the team because you love them no matter what.Its good to see a lot of people here who are not from Spain but still support the team through thick and thin.

    I can relate to you because i was born in Nice, France and i love Arsenal. I love OGC Nice (my home team) as much as i love Arsenal. My story has a bit more of an emotional twist to it (dont worry i wont tell it to yas!). The point is we love our respected club, whether the team has had no trophy for 6 years or has won 6 in one year, it doesnt matter, as long as you love the club no matter what and that should be the most important thing.

    • February 4, 2011

      A lot of people including myself always say that you can support whoever you want as long as your not supporting them for only trophies, but you must support the team because you love them no matter what.

      Very true. I started supporting Barca even though they hadn’t won anything and even when this current success ends, I’ll still support them. Why? Because this most important thing is not that they win all the time (or win things), it’s the way they play.

      Thanks for the compliment, Chris (even though we’ll be mortal enemies on the 16th 😀 ). I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      • Helge
        February 5, 2011

        I think it’s a lot easier to be a Barca fan independent of success or trophies. Because we will always strive to play the beautiful way, totaal voetbal 2.0
        I can’t imagine a situatiuon where we would give up our identity. There will be a time where we won’t have a starting line-up consisting of mainly la Masia products (although I don’t see that coming in the near future), but the idea behind our football remains practically the same.

        What I want to say is, it’s a huge challenge for a fan if your club doesn’t play any good football anymore, if they are doomed to be relegated into third division with a negative record-breaking amount of points. That’s what I’m going through with my hometown club, DSC Arminia Bielefeld. I honestly don’t feel that much affection as I used to, whereas I was still fascinated and a vivid follower of Barca during trophy-less seasons.
        My homeclub might be an extreme example, but in general I support the equation
        no trophies and/OR no style = less fans

    • outerspacedout
      February 4, 2011

      Thanks for making such a uhm, classy, comment. *snicker snicker*

      Seriously though lol welcome to the blog and good luck in the league and domestic cups.

  38. outerspacedout
    February 4, 2011

    I don’t know how you people survive in winter in the US or Canada… I feel like I might freeze to death in the low twenties in degrees Celsius. I don’t know how I’ll live when I have to go to USA/Canada/Europe/Aussie/wherever later on for uni.

    @Gender confusion of Eklavya: Hahahaha Jnice got gender-confused in the LiveBlog as well, as in ‘she’s the authority on Thiago here’ lol.

    • blitzen
      February 4, 2011

      Snow is fun, spaced, you should try it! It is a great excuse for staying home and drinking hot chocolate. Also, if you are are cold it is very easy to put on more clothes and get warm. If you are too hot, you will be hot no matter how many clothes you take off. So there!

    • outerspacedout
      February 4, 2011

      My old friend in Malaysia who now lives in Canada (Toronto Uni) raves about the snow and stuff. She has a room-mate called… a name with a K and an R and vowels, don’t remember if it was Kari or not lol, who is Indian and would get on my friend’s MSN and was obsessed with weddings and how I should find a nice girl to complete my life. Lol.

      My friend sees me on MSN and is like ‘ooh its such a nice warm day only [some insane temperature like frickin 15 degrees Celsius or something] and people are walking around in T-shirts and stuff(!!!)’ and I’m like HOLY CRAP! I would be all wrapped up in the summer there even. But yes snow does seem fun. In short durations.

      Yes heat is awful too. I suck and temperature extremes. I lived all my life in 21-30 degrees Celsius Maldives (except four years in Malaysia, where it goes up to 38 degrees at times and I become a zombie).

    • outerspacedout
      February 4, 2011

      I hope you or Kari would meet my friend and show her the Barca Way lol. Then I”d have someone to talk to about games. Following the WC and Ghana has already given her a decent foundation of football hahaha.

  39. Eduard
    February 5, 2011

    Much inside Kari, I think a lot of us had similar intros to being a Cule.. If it wasn’t for the discovery of live stream, i’d never be as big of a fan(as the access wasn’t there)

    To me, I became a fan of Barca when luis enrique was the captain but became a true cule when I could watch the games regularly(although alone) via live stream.

    Glad to have you on this fantastic site.

  40. February 5, 2011

    Another female delurker here.

    I have racked my brain to when I became a Barca fan, but my earliest memory was when they lost to Internacional in the Club world cup final….
    For some reason VValdes caught my eye and I stuck with him, now Barcelona is my life and I could not see things any different…..

    • February 5, 2011

      YES! Another one de-lurked! 😀

      Valdes? Wow, that’s an unexpected one! Thanks for commenting and welcome, lauryn206!

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