As a kid living about 12.5 miles outside of Baltimore, Maryland; roughly the same distance from Liverpool to St. Helens ─ soccer, or as the rest of the world calls it football, was not the first sport I took an interest in. The first sport I ever played and watched also became my favorite. Baseball means as much to me as soccer means to a die-hard Liverpool fan.
All boys are greatly influenced to play sports by a male figure in their life, whether it be an uncle, older brother, cousin, father, or grandfather. In my case, I was influenced by my father.
My dad was born and raised in Baltimore in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He was influenced by his father to always root for the hometown teams and my father passed that along to me. My dad grew up watching some of the greatest athletes ever to play American football and baseball. To go along with watching some of the greatest players play, by the time my dad was 24 years old, he got the chance to see a Baltimore sports team win five championships.
I’m currently 20, turning 21 in December, and if the Orioles or Ravens somehow win at least two World Series’ and one Super Bowl or one World Series and two Super Bowls or one team wins three in a row in three years, I will have only witnessed a sports franchise from Baltimore win two titles. My father grew up in an era that can be called the greatest period of time in Baltimore sports history.
I’m sure my sports experience comparison with my dad’s is very similar to that of many Liverpool fans, currently in their early 20s, to their fathers. The ‘60s, ‘70s, and even the ‘80s were some of the best times for both Liverpool and Baltimore sports.
As long as I can remember, I have always taken pride in rooting for my hometown teams; something many Liverpool fans also do. At first, rooting for Liverpool, obviously a non-hometown team, was something I had to get used to. I didn’t want to seem like a bandwagon fan but because I don’t have a hometown soccer team I thought it would be OK.
Obviously, the Blast are from Baltimore, but the passion isn’t the same as rooting for a Premier League team or even an MLS team. D.C. has United, who I do root for, but I don’t feel the same connection to them as I would for a Baltimore-based team.
There has always been that one player who makes you want to turn on the TV or listen to the radio just to hear the announcer call that player’s name. Many basketball fans probably thought the same way when Michael Jordan was playing in the mid 1990’s or when Willie Mays was chasing the all-time home run record in Major League Baseball. Everyone knows that these players are quite possibly some of the All-time greats and you just feel obligated to respect their game.
Home-grown Liverpool fans, in their 20s, probably credit Steve Gerard or Jamie Carragher as the two players who grabbed their attention. Their fathers most likely credit legends like Ian Rush or Kenny Dalglish. The person that grabbed my attention is someone who has shown he can definitely score like some of the Liverpool greats.
From the moment I saw this player touch the ball I knew I would be a Liverpool fan for the rest of my life. The way he passed the ball through the legs of the opposing players and would use a burst of speed to break away and then he would finish it off with one of the most magical goals you would see in that season, or, possibly ever; He was the real reason I became a fan of the sport and a fan of Liverpool.
I’ll admit it; my dad was not the person who influenced me to become interested in soccer. I actually persuaded him to watch some games with me. And the events that led up to seeing the first Liverpool game were kind of by chance.
As someone who was not always involved with extracurricular activities in high school, I always watched TV after school. I was bored one afternoon and came across the Fox Soccer Channel on my TV and saw a commercial saying that Premier League games would be broadcasted on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
One Saturday I decided to tune in to check it out. The game I watched featured one of the most exciting young talents in the world. His name was Luiz Suarez.
I’ll always be a fan of Suarez and his game even though he isn’t on Liverpool anymore and all the things he does. He is in the top 5 of the greatest players in the world.
He can hold his own against the No. 1 player Messi. The two of them on the same team, with Neymar alongside, will be some of the greatest soccer anyone alive can see. And I credit Suarez for getting me into the game of soccer and influencing me to become a Liverpool fan for life.