Tommy: The Journey
My first exposure to soccer happened when I was 6 years old. I was in the first grade and my parents signed me up for the U-7 league for Tri-Cities Soccer. I only did it because I was more or less forced to and you can’t bite the hand that feeds. As a youngin, I never understood why they signed me up for soccer. I was spoiled with the Bulls dynasty, Cubs (as terrible as they were at the time), and of course Da Bears. I suspect it was due to the low fees and I all had to do was get some cleats and shin guards. Lotto cleats FTW.
Due to the persistence of my parents, I continued to play soccer until the 4th grade. During this time, I started to not loathe it less and less. By the time I was in the 3rdgrade, the buzz for the World Cup came about. Of course, my curiosity piqued and I watched all of the games I could… It could be on ABC or Telemundo, I just watched it. My favorite team for the 1994 World Cup Tournament was Sweden. It might be because the city I grew up in was founded by Swedish immigrants which made me supporting them so convenient. In reality, it was their innovative play (think Quarterfinal vs Romania) and never say die attitude. By the end of the tournament, my love for soccer grew. My parents realized this and bought me a VHS tape (yes one of those things) called “Play Like a Soccer Legend.” Of course I watched the tape over and over again attempting moves from players such as Franz Beckenbauer, Pierre Litbarski, Johan Cruyff and such. I would fail miserably, but I loved trying to emulate these heroes that I had never heard about.
Fast forward eight years later, USA won the hearts of many, shocked some, and I somehow found my way to being a supporter of the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It was the summer time and I was glued to the TV. USA shocked the world (well, I am assuming so anyways) by beating heavily favored Portugal and finishing 2nd in their group. I was also wowed by Brazil, (I mean.. who wasn’t?) Ireland, and even South Korea. After the United States’ heartbreaking loss to Germany, I knew I had to watch more soccer. I bought a World Soccer magazine, looked through the United States roster and decided to find a team in England to support. After much deliberation, I narrowed it down to 3 teams.. Blackburn, Tottenham Hotspur and their rivals down the road. I looked into Blackburn because Brad Friedel was on their team and he was a life saver for the United States in the tournament. Tottenham was in the running because they just signed an Irish lad named Robbie Keane that summer. He was easily my favorite player in the World Cup. His goal celebrations and last gasp goal against Germany was something I could only dream of when I was playing soccer in P.E. class. Also playing for Tottenham was Kasey Keller. He was USA’s most notable foreign export at the time. I figured, if I did indeed support Tottenham, it had to be a big name American player. Lastly, the bad guys down the road (aka scum to some other people) were in the running because of Freddie Ljungberg. Since I was a Sweden fan, I figured I should follow him. If you couldn’t tell already, Tottenham became my choice. I excluded the bad guys down the road immediately because it would have been way too easy to glory hunt and root for a winner straight away. Blackburn? Well, there was nothing too exciting about them aside from Brad Friedel (even though, it did go full circle years later when he played for Spurs). So it was settled, I chose Tottenham. To be fair, it was over before it started. Robbie Keane was that awesome to me… even though he broke my heart years later.
Over the years without cable or any real exposure to the Premiership, I followed Tottenham based on results online. Of course, I was hoping Robbie Keane would score goals often and he did. Eventually, I was watching games at college whether it would be tape delay, streaming, or random highlight clips. Thanks to Fox Soccer Channel and now NBCSN (Where would I be without you?), I can honestly say I never missed a Spurs game even if I had to watch it on delay. I would deliberately cut off communication to social media and British websites since spoilers (win, lose or draw) would ruin my day.
Over the course the 14 years of me being a Tottenham Hotspur fan, I’ve had it all. I have had no regrets when I experienced the terrifying lows, dizzying highs, and creamy middles. Was it worth it experiencing Lasagna-Gate, 2 points in 8 matches, the 2012 CL Final, the mediocre Glenn Hoddle years during my years of fandom? Of course! I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Whether Tottenham win the 2019 Premier League or finally win it when I’m on my death bed in 2060, I can honestly say the juice will be worth the squeeze.
TL;DR.. I support Spurs because of Kasey Keller and Robbie Keane.