The negativity shown toward English fans is widely known – we’re usually on the end of harsh words from foreign officials, plus we are unfairly reviled by other countries as a negative influence on football. It’s fair to say our reputation isn’t the greatest.
Our passion for the beautiful game is sometimes misunderstood by others, but nothing can compare to an English derby, a relegation battle or those wet and wild FA Cup nights.
However, the Fabrice Muamba case has reminded us exactly why our fans are genuine, respectable, and – above all, regardless of your team – unite together when serious incidents like this may occur. We should be proud of how we supported and willed Muamba to recover: numerous Facebook groups with similar ‘Get well soon’ messages were created, footballers’ wore Muamba shirts and sent personal messages, whilst Thierry Henry flew across from New York to be with his former teammate.
Despite Bill Shankly’s famous words ‘football isn’t a matter of life or death – it’s much more important than that’, it felt like even this managerial genius had it wrong. The frantically urgent gesticulating by players of both sides was seriously indicative of his state; the game was cancelled with the players in utter traumatisation.
I truly hope that after such genuine, heartfelt support for Muamba – with shirts from every Premier League club placed outside the Reebok and fans across all stadium’s sporting ‘get well Muamba’ placards and signs – foreign officials (particularly Michel Platini) and clubs take notice of our support.
This isn’t to say that clubs outside of the English teams haven’t supported their fellow professional: images of Barcelona and Real Madrid with messages for both Muamba and Abidal instantly spread virally.
So, of course we have fire in our bellies. I mean, who doesn’t want to support their team as much as they possibly can? But what we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks is that we put all of this aside when the focus shifts from patterns of play and counter attacking, to the health and wellbeing of a gladiator on the field of play.
I had seen Muamba play and knew of his footballing ability, but I don’t closely follow his form or Bolton. When the news came through, it was still staggeringly shocking… therefore the fallout reaction from the rest of the world was incredible and to say the least, moving.
We may be loud, easily angry or offensive, but when something like Muamba’s collapse arises, we all unite together as one. That’s why we’re the best fans in the world.
Get well soon Fabrice Muamba.
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