Below, are the two stories of Laziali Svedesi that both fell in love with Italian Serie A side Lazio
Whilst in Rome, people at the Stadio Olimpico often ask me “why are you here, all the way from Sweden?”. It is not in a bad way or with disrespect, people just have a hard time to comprehend that someone from the cold and distant Euopean country comes to Rome to watch a club like Lazio – a club that really is not, and has not been, in the real spotlight for quite sometime but is slowly returning back from the years after the Cragnotti meltdown. However, to me Lazio is not the obvious choice just because of success, that you live in a certain town or like a certain player. It is more of a ‘real life choice’ .
For me it all started in the mid 90’s when me and my brother were watching a TV show called “Uno Kryss Due” that showed the Italian Serie A and one of the hosts was Thomas Nordahl, the son of the late Gunnar Nordahl that used to play for Milan back in the days. Sweden was pretty much indoctrinated that the English football was the best and many Swedes follow teams like Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United because of this to the current date.
My younger brother (may he rest in peace) was a milanista and he liked good defenders like Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi. I did not have a team back then, but suddenly there it was. A live score during the match declared that a team called Lazio had scored. I like to think that it was Giuseppe Signori that scored that goal that got me closer to Lazio.
Since then and thanks to the evolvement of social media my chances to keep track of my club has clearly grown. In order to go further down the line I became a writer and later got to be the editor of the Swedish Lazio fan page at SvenskaFans.com for the last couple of years.
There have been many trips to Rome, but one of my favorites is one that I had made with my girlfriend as a present from her. Fact is, she has been somewhat of an amulet for me and Lazio, as since whenever she comes with me to watch a derby, Lazio have never lost. This time it was the Rome derby in November of 2012. This match had it all: heavy skyfall, lightning, a crazy free kick, a punch, a red card and in the end, a lovely Lazio win.
Being the son of two complete Italophiles I remember spending every summer in Italy from the age of 3 or 4. My mother has a fear of flying so every year we would drive the 2400 kilometers to Rome, or more specifically to Anzio, a small coastal town about an hour south of Rome.
I remember the first time Lazio came into my life was when the legend Sven-Göran Eriksson had taken the reigns at Lazio and my father, being a lover of calcio, took me on a road trip from Azio to Formello to watch the boys practice.
It was a wonderful experience for a then 12-year-old boy and ever since, S.S Lazio has been the club of my heart. The following years where Sven-Göran Eriksson guided Lazio to a Scudetto and European glory, with some help from some of the finest players in history there was never a dark cloud on the Lazio skies and I was living the life of a Lazio supporter to the fullest. My only regret was that I never got to watch Lazio play live since I was never in Rome other than during the summer months.
Then along came the financial woes and with tears streaming down my face I had to witness my heroes being sold and shipped out to giants like Inter, Juventus and AC Milan. It was true heartbreak and I can still to this day remember the complete sense of emptiness when Alessandro Nesta left the team of his heart and childhood club. It felt in a way like losing that older brother I never had but always wished for – I have two great older sisters by the way.
Those were the years that truly defined me as a Lazio supporter I think. To learn to ever take anything for granted in football. One year you are on top of the world and the next you are facing financial ruin. It also defined me as a lover of football over all. I have no interest or love for the giants of our sport. The Manchester United’s and FC Barcelona’s of the world are so far away from what I enjoy and love. The glory hunters that follow these clubs are very welcome to do so and I hope they get kicks out of winning 98% of all their games. It’s fine, I don’t want them anywhere near the football I enjoy. The sort of football where you can never take anything for granted. Where you know that even when up 3-0 you can never be sure because all of a sudden Paolo Tagliavento will pull a red card and a penalty kick and everything will be upended for the umpteenth time.
I guess what I am trying to say that I will always love my S.S Lazio no matter where we may reside in table, no matter how many journeymen or parameter zero players we bring in, in the end the jersey with that golden eagle on the chest will always represent pride, strength and loyalty for me.
Oh and by the way, I am yet to witness Lazio win a derby live. So if I ever express the desire to go watch that magical nerve-wracking match, please remind me to stay on my couch.