A couple of days ago, I mentioned how easy it was to make friends while at matches… friends that you will probably never see again, but friends all the same.
At the World Cup in 1994, I went to see Sweden play Romania in the quarterfinals in San Francisco. There was a small but loud contingent of Swedish fans, so I moved from my quiet seat and joined the group that looked to be having all the fun. There was no barrier to movement in the stadiums at that tournament. One of the many friends I made that day was Janne
We ended up spending the remaining seven days of the World Cup in America following the Swedish team and going to the semifinals, third-fourth playoff and final together.
We had both gone to the tournament with almost no money, so we survived by getting our tickets from the black market, and sharing our food and hotel rooms to save money.
We stayed in touch after such a great experience, and in 1997, three years later, I went to visit him in his home town, Linkoping, Sweden, and in 1999 he came to stay with me in Bahrain for two weeks.
Ten years after we first met in 1994, we decided to go to Portugal for Euro 2004, and spent two weeks driving all over the country, following all the matches we could get tickets for, staying in bed and breakfasts, and basically reliving our youth. In many ways, it was even better than the first time round.
And last night, walking back from the Ukraine-Sweden game, who should I bump into, but Janne Svensson… exactly 17 years and 11 months after we first met at the Stanford Stadium, San Francisco.
Some friends you never see again, and some friends are just destined to be with you throughout your life.