On the latest episode of the Planet Fútbol Podcast, SI.com interviews Katie Nolan, the host of the ESPN+ show “Always Late With Katie Nolan,” about how she fell in love with Liverpool FC and became a soccer fan.
You can listen to the full conversation in the podcast console below and subscribe to and download the Planet Fútbol Podcast on iTunes. Recent guests include former U.S. women's national team forward Abby Wambach, former U.S. men's national team forward Eddie Johnson, ex-U.S. standout Tony Sanneh, broadcasters Bob Ley and Derek Rae, and U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
On how she became a Liverpool fan:
“It's no secret I'm a Boston fan from Boston. And I never really had any interest in the Premier League because I didn't have a team. I'll watch anything, but I always need to have a rooting interest. If I'm watching golf usually I’ll be like, maybe I should gamble—I live in Jersey, so it's allowed—because you want to root for someone. So when it came to needing to watch English Premier League soccer when I was at Fox, because they would be our lead-in with Champions League games, sometimes we had to talk about English soccer, and I didn't have a team or care at all. So Georgie Thompson, who was the co-host of our show with the lovely Regis Philbin, she obviously was from England, and she assigned each of us a team, and she gave me Liverpool. And with that she gave me a jersey. I was like, 'Oh, awesome, this is cool, because these are expensive.' So that's how I got into them.
"Then I met Tom Werner [the chairman of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC], because I interviewed him, and he gave me a Liverpool hat, and he was like, ‘you have to actually watch, though. I don’t want you to be one of those fans who doesn’t actually care.’
"If some of the games would be on in the afternoon, I would watch those, but I wasn't waking up at 7 a.m. to watch the games. Then I met my current boyfriend, and he happened to be a huge Liverpool fan. So now I wake up at 7 a.m. and watch the games. All of them.”
On her favorite Liverpool player:
“It’s Mo Salah. I love him. I love him so much. Because he's just this bundle of joy. You know why I think I love him so much? I've been half in the water of being a Liverpool fan for a while. Last year was the year I got hooked. It got its hooks in me. And I think it's because of Mo. Once I saw this guy, the way he played, he was aggressive and he scored these goals that were incredible to watch. And I just found myself not thinking like, 'Oh, I have to wake up and watch the game.' It was like, 'What time's the game on? I'm up!' As a sports fan, obviously all sports are different, but you know that moment when a sport or an athlete hooks you. It's a cool feeling, and I haven't really felt it in a while, because I've had the same teams for so long. So you don't normally have in the later years in your life that feeling you get when you connect to a team for the first time. And I got to experience that through Mo, and so that's why I'll always love him.”
On how she got past the barrier to entry in following pro soccer:
“I'm curious about it. I want to know more. The thing that always confused me, one of the barriers to getting into European soccer specifically, was that there were these two leagues and then this other league, and then these games were going on at the same time. and I was like, 'What? I don't understand it. Relegation? Promotion?' There was so much happening, and it just to me felt like I will get to that later in life when I'm ready. When I have time, I will retire to an interest in soccer. But then you do find some fans who are just so excited and so genuinely believe in what a great sport and a system it is, and they're excited to tell you here's how that works, here's why that's great. And here’s what American sports can learn from this league and that. So I've been lucky enough to have people that are willing to teach me.”