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4 years after signing up I'm not exactly a newbie. I've always been eager and impatient to dive straight into discussions and share my views on my favourite topic - Chelsea Football Club. But I've noticed I still haven't done this so it's about time!

I'm born in '98 and German, grew up in a family whose interest in football never went beyond the world cup and the euros. During these tournaments I found myself more invested than them - crying in 2006 after Germany's semi-final elimination against Italy, crying again in 2006 when I felt France should have won the final, crying in 2008 when Germany lost the euros to Spain - but we obviously had no sports pay tv subscription, so I could only follow the German national team every few months. In that team I quickly determined Michael Ballack as my hero, the captain and leader who I could always rely on when things were looking bleak.

On the 21st of May 2008 my parents went out for dinner, so my grandma came over to look after me. As always I was allowed to stay up and watch tv till 9 pm, so with 15 mins left to go i desperately zapped from one channel to another to make the most of the time. All of a sudden I saw Michael Ballack, playing in a neat blue kit in what the commentator described as the biggest game of the season. I was fixated, but in no time at all was sent to bed.

I thought about falling a sleep, but the idea of the tiny old TV in my parent's bedroom was way too tempting. Two hours later I cried again, after watching the most important football game of my life. I realised that a great team could consist of a whole group of heroes. I realised there was something bigger and more important out there than watching Germany beat San Marino 6-0 in euro qualifiers - I realised I had found my team.

From that point I followed every Chelsea match, in ways that would be unthinkable today. My options were still limited, but I found out there were German websites offering livetickers of all the matches. They didn't include any commentary back then, they just formally listed all game incidences (subs, cards, goals), so every weekend I spent two hours refreshing a rarely changing website. I also found out that if Chelsea had played late in the night, I could usually find the result in a little column somewhere in our daily newspaper. No idea how this kind of fandom managed to keep me hooked...

The next game I got to actually watch on free tv was the 2nd leg against Barca 2009, which was probably the last time I cried because of a football match. Still being a little football inexperienced I thought surely that scandal of a game had to be repeated - it was a dramatic start to life as a Chelsea Fan, but the drama only made me more committed. I got to know these players better and better and knew that they would eventually come out on top.

The next milestone was when a friend told me about some dodgy looking website which showed every single football match. From that point I never missed a game again and got to celebrate my first Premier League title in 2010 on my grandpa's computer in his basement. The 1-0 against Portsmouth was a bitter-sweet victory for me because of Ballack's horrific injury, but by that point I was entirely aware that I was not merely a Michael Ballack fan any more, but a Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba fan. A year later I convinced my dad to buy us two tickets to watch Chelsea in the Champions League in Leverkusen, two years after that in Schalke.

Growing up as a Chelsea fan in Germany wasn't easy, particularly after winning the Champions League against Bayern Munich. No one could ever understand why I would follow some oligarch's club a few hundred miles away and the abuse in school was strong. Every Chelsea defeat, every elimination was celebrated, but that didn't stop me from wearing my Chelsea kit every PE class.

In 2017/18 I studied in London for one year, became a Chelsea member and went to see as many Chelsea matches as possible. It wasn't the greatest season but going down to Stamford Bridge regularly was an incredible experience. The other day I read on the news that Eurostar and Thalys are merging, planning to offer a >3 hrs direct train connection between London and western Germany at some point. I think in an ideal future me and my future children will be season ticket holders one day...

So that's my Chelsea story so far. No Chelsea fan from birth, but a committed follower against all odds and resistances, who will be eternally greatful that my grandma didn't come upstairs again to check that I had actually gone to bed back in 2008. When I eventually become father of a bunch of little Chelsea fans they will have it a lot easier than me, watching every match on my sky subscription, but I will proudly tell them how it all started and that they don't need to take any sh*t from their classmates.

Naturally I'm not part of the old guard of Chelsea fans, but if I'm lucky enough to be around 50 years from now I most definitely will be

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On 05/03/2021 at 12:29, Luiz4Chelsea said:

The next game I got to actually watch on free tv was the 2nd leg against Barca 2009

That match still haunts me 😩

Its great to read how someone not based in England gets to support the club, thanks for sharing.

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