90min & Toyo Tires have travelled the world to see how the most passionate superfans experience a football matchday.
Visiting Gamba Osaka, Leicester City & AC Milan, our superfans each took turns showcasing the typical delights of a matchday.
From the pre-match food and cultural landmarks to fan passions and rituals, the 'Superfan Relay' explored the ways in which, despite the huge cultural differences between these clubs, all football fans share one common love; the beautiful game!
Which cities/teams did you visit in the Superfan Relay? Manchester for Leicester City's match with Manchester City, and Milan for the Milan derby.
What was your favourite moment of the experience? My favourite moment was getting to meet Leicester City midfielder Shinji Okazaki.
What were the key cultural differences between your own match days and the match day rituals of the city you visited? The main difference I really picked up between Milan and back home in England was definitely the food!
I felt that the food in Milan was just so much nicer than what we'll find on a matchday in England, and on the football side of things, the atmosphere was so much more impressive over in Milan. Even though Leicester have great, loud away support, the sound in Milan was just so unique.
Even early on before the game, you'd struggle to speak. It was loud.
Which cities/teams did you visit in the Superfan Relay? I went to see Gamba Osaka play Hokkaido in Osaka, and visited Manchester to see Leicester City player Manchester City.
What was your favourite moment of the experience? Every single moment of the entire trip was absolutely magnificent, but if I must say, I would say that the moment when Jamie Vardy scored by an insane fast counter attack against Manchester City.
When he scored, all the lovely Leicester fans went crazy and I felt that they were so proud of being fans of “the Foxes”. My favourite moment in Osaka trip was the moment when all foreign crews had enjoyed Japan - in terms of culture, food, people, and of course, football!
It was such an honour to have an opportunity to spread the name of Gamba Osaka to people from the other countries, as the J-League is not well-known in comparison to the Premier League and Serie A.
What were the key cultural differences between your own match days and the match day rituals of the city you visited? First of all, I would say that the Leicester fans are completely different from the Gamba Osaka fans.
When on the bus with the Leicester fans on the way to Etihad Stadium, they suddenly started singing supporters’ songs. It was impressive! As Leicester has a great incomparable history, I truly understood that the loyalty of all the fans would make a big part of the great history.
The atmosphere of the Etihad Stadium was also impressive, as the Manchester City fans continuously booed us for entire duration of the match.
Which cities/teams did you visit in the Superfan Relay? My first visit was to Osaka, Japan, where we went to Gamba Osaka stadium.
We visited the pitch where they play their home games and we had the incredible pleasure to meet and interview Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, who is one of the biggest legends that Gamba Osaka ever had in their team.
The second part of my journey was in my beloved city, Milan, where we had the opportunity to go see how enthusiastic the city and the fans of Milan and Inter were ahead of one of the most important games of the season; the Milan derby.
What was your favourite moment of the experience? It's hard to pick only one preferred moment of this unforgettable experience.
In Japan, we had the chance to see how respectful players and fans are towards their opponents and towards their own home, the stadium, where I experienced something that I could have never even imagined - fans picking up rubbish outside the stadium after the game to keep all the area nearby the stadium cleaned. Wow.
In Milan, it wasn't my first time and it wasn't also my first time at a Milan derby, but the way we experienced this derby was different: we went into the changing rooms of both teams shortly before the game!
You could really feel the tension in the locker rooms even without the players being inside there yet, given the history that surrounds those amazing clubs.
But if I have to pick one favourite moment - it was probably the walk in the hallway that takes you to the San Siro pitch. It was just before the game with all the fans and the chants, the flags, everything. I will never forget it.
What were the key cultural differences between your own match days and the match day rituals of the city you visited? The cultural differences that I felt the most are as said the way Japanese fans experience the before and after the game. Before the game, outside the stadium it looks like a playground for kids. There's the cheerleaders of Gamba Osaka performing all different kind of songs and dance, while you eat something like a crepe ball filled with hot octopus - something that obviously I have never seen before as in Italy. It's usually sandwiches!
In the city you don't feel that much excitement and tension before the game, though in Milan most weekends will have the biggest game usually played on Sunday night.
I feel in Italy we have a unique way of supporting our teams, where we don't stop singing and just screaming to anything that happens. It gives to the ones who've never visited a very special experience. The stadium plays its part in all that, because we all know what kind of games were played in the San Siro. But still the fans are a unique component in all this.
This article is brought to you by Toyo Tires