Fan-spiration: “I will carry this special moment in my heart forever”
Football has always been a part of Eden Micallef’s life. The 19-year-old says that both her father and brother are lifelong FC Bayern fans, and therefore it was only natural for her to start supporting the club as well. The more Eden learned about FC Bayern’s history, the successes and disappointments, the culture and values, the more she appreciated being a fan.
“Since the day I started supporting FC Bayern, I’ve watched nearly all matches at Malta’s FC Bayern Munich fan club,” says Eden, who is currently studying for her ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accounts) exams and recently started working at a digital IT audit department.
“Having been a visitor for years, in 2019 I decided to start dedicating more time to the fan club and became its first female committee member. I currently perform the role of a vice-treasurer, and I hope my contribution can have a positive impact on the growth and success of Malta’s relatively small community of Bayern fans.”
Eden’s love for FC Bayern grew even stronger the day she “discovered” Thiago Alcântara. He’s been her favorite player ever since.
“He faced a few obstacles with respect to injuries, particularly during the time when he was sidelined for 371 days – but he always worked hard to not let that hold him back,” Eden says. “We’ve seen him getting better over the years, and I’m very happy that he is reaching a world-class level and getting recognition for it.”
Thiago is truly technically gifted and versatile, she adds, with an impressive passing accuracy and his fantastic vision on the pitch, which turned him into a key player for the team’s build up play.
“The way he plays football is simply artistic – it’s a joy to watch him with a ball at his feet,” Eden explains.
The first time Eden travelled to Munich in 2015, she was excited at the prospect of seeing Thiago. She went to the training ground at Säbener Straße and waited patiently for the players to arrive. Thiago was the only player to stop his car for signatures and photos, Eden recalls.
“But as it was my turn, his driver drove off inside. As a 14-year old girl, I cried for hours about being so close yet so far to meeting my idol,” she says. “Every year after that, I continuously sought new opportunities to meet Thiago, but none of them succeeded… Until 2019.”
Thiago’s management – The Player Management – became aware of Eden’s continuous support for Thiago through her Instagram fanpage @thia.6oal, which she started 3 ½ years ago.
“In May 2019, they sent me a video from Thiago himself,” she says. “Later that year, when they discovered I was travelling to Munich again, they set up a surprise meeting for me with Thiago at Säbener Straße.”
While Eden was waiting for Thiago, Javi Martinez stopped by and had a quick chat with her as well – unfortunately he thought she was Spanish and happily conversed with Eden in his native language.
“Because of my limited Spanish skills, I stared at him blankly until he was informed that I’m not from Spain, and then he repeated himself in English,” Eden recalls. “After that, I was too embarrassed to ask him for a photo! Since then, I started learning Spanish. Maybe I’ll be able to answer his questions better next time.”
Her encounter with Thiago was one that Eden will never forget.
“I was lucky enough to not only meet Thiago for a few photos, but to also get to talk to him for a few minutes. Additionally, [The Player Managament] gave me Thiago’s match-worn shirt from the previous game, Bayern vs. Werder Bremen, and he signed it in front of me. I thanked them a thousand times, but it will never be enough! It was such a special moment, which I will surely carry in my heart forever!”
Sadly, Thiago parted ways with FC Bayern in September to take the next step in his career by joining FC Liverpool – a devastating loss for Eden, but one that she has made peace with since.
“Knowing that he has left after having won the treble made this departure slightly less painful,” she explains. “The way he said Goodbye shows that he identified with this club and lived the ‘mia san mia’ to the fullest. I’m grateful for the seven years he spent at FC Bayern and wish him all the best for the rest of his career.”
Seeing Thiago – and the rest of team – win the treble last season was one of the most gratifying moments for Eden since she became a Bayern supporter.
“I was always disappointed that I didn’t get into club football just a year earlier to witness the historic 2013 treble, but getting to experience this one was an indescribable feeling,” she says. “Especially considering the extraordinary circumstances in which the matches had to take place this year, I couldn’t be more proud of the whole team for this amazing achievement.”
Going into the new season, Eden was slightly worried about the transfer window – after all, the club seemed to struggle a bit in recent years, but especially in times of COVID-19, the upcoming match schedule is more demanding than ever before.
“Whilst I understand that the current situation has put a lot of pressure on the club’s finances, it has put even more pressure on the players who will have to play twice almost every week next season,” Eden says. “Squad depth is more important than ever to ensure the players get the necessary rest to keep performing at their highest levels and to prevent injuries.”
Even after Thiago’s departure, Eden’s support for FC Bayern never wavered. She has made good friends all around the world, sharing her passion for the club, referring to them as the family she got to choose.
“Supporting FC Bayern is the happiness when the team wins, or the sadness when they lose, the excitement for matchday after having a long week, the tension before a tough match, the pride of putting on this shirt and showing it off to the whole world – put simply, it’s a mixture of emotions worth feeling,” Eden explains. “I wouldn’t change being an FC Bayern fan for the world!”
Eden’s Twitter account: @thia6oal