Fan-spiration: “Most of my friends called me a traitor because I was cheering for Bayern”
The earliest memory Lily Nana has about football is the 1998 World Cup. She was only a toddler at the time, almost three years old, but she remembers everyone around her celebrating and her uncle crying tears of joy because France, their home country, had won the coveted trophy.
“My whole family was pretty involved in football, and I have an uncle who played briefly for the French club Montpellier,” Lily explains. “It was only natural for me to follow in their footsteps. I wanted to play myself but a series of injuries to my ankle and my asthma prevented me from doing so.”
Lily, who has lived in Paris her whole life, always supported her local club, Paris Saint-Germain. But when Franck Ribéry joined FC Bayern in 2007, her attention turned to Germany. After following the Bundesliga from afar, Lily went to Bavaria in 2010 for a linguistic trip.
“I had taken up German as a second language since I have a lot of family living in Switzerland but my German was not good enough so I decided to go on a trip to improve it,” Lily recalls. “When I got to Bavaria, I was in a foster family who were following Bayern almost religiously. They were the ones who really brought up the passion I have for FC Bayern.”
This passion has stayed with her, even after returning to Paris, where the 24-year-old works at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris as a student advisor. She also works alongside her brother, who is based in Cameroon, in sports events and management.
Lily describes FC Bayern as “a lighthouse” in her life.
“Every time I’m feeling down, I watch videos of the club and that instantly puts a smile on my face,” she says. “Moreover, it’s really thrilling to see them overcome difficulties — like we had in the first half of the season.”
When she was tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago, Lily realized that her fellow FC Bayern supporters were more than just people she shared a passion with.
“I had people asking me every day how I was, sometimes even more often than my own friends,” she says. “It was really the moment I understood that loving Bayern and being a fan doesn’t just stop there. You join a family. And I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”
Lily counts winning the treble this year as her favorite FC Bayern moment, mainly because it was a very tough and challenging season.
“The first half of the season was tainted by our poor performances, and the second abruptly stopped by the global pandemic,” she says.
However, going into the Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain, Lily faced a dilemma: it was a final between the two clubs that are closest to her heart.
“I’ve been supporting Paris Saint-Germain ever since I was little because it is my local team and it would have been their first Champions League title,” Lily explains, adding that she wanted PSG to win – if only they hadn’t played against Bayern.
“It was like being torn, even though I wanted Bayern to win more,” she says. “Bayern is a real team. PSG isn’t yet.”
As Parisians took to the streets and geared up to watch the final, Lily stayed home – but even there, she says, it was war.
“My mom and I watched the game together and when Kingsley Coman scored, she actually cried a little while I was exulting with glee,” Lily recounts the moment when the Frenchman’s header decided the final.
“Most of my friends called me a traitor because I was cheering for Bayern instead of my local team. I even had complaints from my neighbours because after the game, I put ‘FC Bayern Forever Number One’ on my speakers and literally yelled the lyrics.”
Lily’s favorite player of the current FC Bayern squad is Leon Goretzka because of his hard work and determination on the pitch. One of her all-time favorites, however, is Franck Ribéry.
“Besides being an amazing player, he really is a nice person,” Lily says. “He might have said some unconventional things — mostly during the gold steak drama — but overall, he always gives back to the community, whether that’s made public or not.”
In September 2017, when FC Bayern came to Paris to play against PSG in their second game of the Champions League group stage, Lily didn’t hesitate and went to their hotel. With her knowledge of the German language, she was able to ask some of the players for photos.
“I asked Ribéry for a picture in German and he laughed at me because I spoke German out of ‘habit’ and totally forgot in the heat of the moment that he was French,” Lily recalls her encounter with Ribéry.
She also attended the game at Parc des Princes – which Bayern lost 0-3. Despite the defeat, Lily says that it was nice to see her team play live for the first time. Even so, she would very much like to visit Allianz Arena once the football stadiums are open again.
“I think that an important part of seeing your football club live is to be with the fans, and to sing, jump and dance to support your team.”
Lily’s Twitter account: @hulkretzka