Saturday Sep 05, 2015  
  11/11/2012: '10,000km Per Te': An Extract
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In order to restore all the energy consumed from the past few days (mostly from the late night drinking), I slept the day away. In the evening, I headed to the Lazio Land dinner event at the Flann O‟Brien bar and met up with the rest of the Lazio Land members; I was joined by Pieter, Sascha and Darren (Pieter is a Belgian, Sascha a German and Darren an Englishman) who were all regulars and have attended the derby for more than a dozen times; this yearly gathering has become a significant part of their lives.

“Lots of respect to you guys!” I yelled. The music was roaring in the background.
“It‟s not easy to set aside your stuff back home and fly all the way to Rome for the Derby!”

“You flew ten thousand kilometres Nigel!” Said Pieter. “You are the man!”

“Considering all the trips that you have made, I am sure you have exceeded ten thousand kilometres.” I returned the compliments.

The people started arriving in the bar. There was Paolo, Kris and Farida, the hilarious couple from Sweden, Alex from Denmark, who travelled around the world with his Lazio scarf, the Sneaths and many more. It was a reunion of good old friends. And seeing the smiles and laughter coming from the faces of these multi-nationals Laziali was simply priceless. It made me feel like I am part of a big family.

“Nigel, so how did you convince your wife to let you come?” Debbie teased.

“Well, it‟s easy. I only need to buy her a Louis Vuitton bag worth 700 Euros.” I replied.

“What?!” Martin looked like he had just seen the ghost of John Lennon. “Get them from China, Nigel! They are fake but they look damn real!” he suggested.

The idea came too late as I had already done the shopping at Via Del Corso, the haven for shoppers and especially ladies who have a craving for designer brands. I was tasked by my wife to call her as I explained in excruciating details, the colours and designs of the bags while boutique-hopping; I nearly wet myself when I received the phone bill.

Martin and Debbie Sneath are from Nottingham England. Not only are they Derby Veterans, but also well-respected members of the forum. They are well known for their undying passion for the team. Martin became an overnight „YouTube‟ star when videos of him appearing topless in the freezing stands, surfaced on the video-sharing website. The latter had taken off his shirt in celebration after Miroslav Klose scored the penultimate goal against Roma in the last derby. His muscular body, (comparable to Arnold Schwarzenegger) plus his roar of „C‟MONNNNNN!‟ at the end of the match still give me the chills.

Kristoffer handed me a stack of stickers. It was about his group back in Sweden, the „Brigata Biancoceleste Svedese‟ (I can never pronounce the word „Svedese‟), a Lazio Ultra group in Sweden that is huge back home. „Contro La Tessera‟ (Against the Fan ID Card) it reads. It is referring to the controversial „Tessera Del Tifoso‟: The card which the government of Italy and the Police have introduced, in order to reduce crowd trouble in the stadiums. I really enjoyed pasting the stickers on every street lamp, traffic lights and building walls. If I had done this back in my own country, I will be put behind bars or caned on my arse.

Shortly, Paolo gave a motivational speech to the crowd, thanking us for coming and played us a short video montage of the Rome Derby. The place suddenly turned quiet and serious as everyone‟s eyes glued to the big screen. I was near drunk, but I could see the eyes of everyone present at the bar; the tension, the rage and the „We must win tomorrow‟ look on their faces.
“Bisogna Vincere La Lazio!‟ (We must win La Lazio!)
Author: Nigel Gan
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