I notice that most people have two favorite football team that they support. The first one is the team that they support undoubtedly, watch the match every weekend, and go crazy about it. The second one is the team that they support because of certain players or just because supporting only one team is not enough. For me, the first is Arsenal and the second is FC Bayern München.
To be honest, I forgot when is exactly my support for FC Bayern grew. But I know clearly why I love this team. Because I like Germany National Football Team and most of the FC Bayern players are also play for Germany NT, so yes that was one of the reason. The other reason is because Miroslav Klose and Philipp Lahm, I love to see them played with FC Bayern. But with or without them, it is always a pleasure to watch FC Bayern plays.
As a Bavarians (the nickname of FC Bayern supporters), I admit that I rarely watch their match and did not know much about them as I did with Arsenal. In my defence, it is because my Bundesliga knowledge is limited. Also because Premier League is more enticing :p
To pay my regret for not being a good supporter, last summer I watched the team in Singapore, which only one hour fly away from Jakarta. The trip was awesome. I won a Thomas Muller signed jersey, met Miroslav Klose in person and got my jersey signed by the legend, and watched the game live. I intended to visit them in their hotel and keen for a selfie, but unfortunately couldn’t make it.
So when I knew that FC Bayern is going to Istanbul for the second leg of Champions League, I just couldn’t miss it again! Ever since they announced that FC Bayern got to face Besiktas in round of 16, I started to follow Besiktas’ social media, so I couldn’t miss the ticket sales.
Apparently it is not easy to watch football match in Turkey, as in Superlig (Turkey’s professional football league) or any other match, including Champions League. I taught being a non-Turkish citizen, I just have to buy the ticket itself, but the rules applied for everyone, even for tourist. All the supporters need to make a Passolig card, put some money on it, and buy the ticket online a week before. To register for a Passolig we need to pay for about 30 TL for the annual fee. Take the card from the chosen stadium, load it with some amount of money, and buy the match ticket.
Even tough the ticket price is higher than the usual Super Lig match (170 TL is the cheapest), I was so stoked to watch Champions League in Istanbul. I checked the sales point website everyday and I even put reminder on my phone. But on the sales day, the website crashed so badly, I successfully got seats, but when the website asked for passport number, it said I put the wrong number. For God’s sake it is the right number! I was so heartbroken knowing that I can’t watch Champions League.
Missed the match didn’t mean I also missed the chance to meet the players, right? The team always arrived in the city the day before the match. So, the day before the match, me and my friend, Sara skipped class and went to the airport. I narrowed the possibilities on their landing time with this following formula –> The team always travel with Lufthansa and they must be arrived in Istanbul Ataturk Airport (Sabiha Gokcen is so far away, can’t be there). It leads me to one plane schedule, Munich to Istanbul, arrived at 14.30 local time.
We waited since 12.00. We made friends with other supporters, two boys and three girls. We patiently waited. When the plane schedule in the gate changed to landed, I was so happy. The butterfly in my tummy fly every time the gate opened. But until 15.00, there’s no sign of the players, only the staffs. When we checked on Instagram story, Mats Hummels made video on a bus, informing that they were arrived in Istanbul. The irony is he took the video on the road in front of my dorm. That certain road that I took everyday. I shouldn’t go to the airport. By standing in the metrobus stop, I could see the team’s bus for God’s sake!
But I am not gonna make myself linger in sadness. Give up is only for the weak. We wanted to visit their hotel, but we did not know where it is. The only thing we knew was the hotel must be near to Vodafone Park, the stadium. So me and Sara went to Taksim, because we were starved, ate there, while wait for the next information. After we ate, I remembered that in the first leg when Besiktas in Munchen, they did a press conference and training session at the night. We then straightly went to the Vodafone Park.
Vodafone Park that night was quite crowded. There are some FC Bayern supporter standing in front of the gate. I expect that they were waiting for the team. So we patiently waited again, in the middle of cold night. 15 mins later, the team’s bus came. They came! But I couldn’t see anyone clearly (only Franck Ribery), because the bus glass’ was so dark.
Again, give up is only for the weak. We didn’t go home yet. We sat in front of the stadium. Thinking which hotel they stayed. After scrolling on Instagram, we found that they stayed in Swissotel The Bosphorus. Thanks to David Alaba who made an Instagram story. We went there, walking in the middle of dark quite park leads to nowhere. After climbing some high steeps, we arrived at the hotel. Act confidently through the security check and entered the building.
In the hotel terrace, there were some other FC Bayern supporters, around 10 people. Fast forward to one hour later, there were a man that I guess must be the staff. He told us that when the player come, they will walk this way and the supporter need to stand on the other side. The man was kind enough to give us a set of the team photo card. Wow talk about lucky! 30 mins later, all the supporter went to the lobby. The bus coming and the players arrived one by one. Our patience paid off. It was really them!
The players walk fast. I shouted some names, but they just walk away. I knew that they must be tired after the flight and the training session. But, I just wanted to take a quick selfie. Later on, Mats Hummels came. Mats freaking Hummels! I shouted his name and said that I wanted to take selfie. He stopped! We took selfie and after that I said “Ich liebe dich” means “I love you” in Deutsch. He turned and smiled at me. Mats freaking Hummels smiled at me! Then Muller came, Sara managed to took picture with him, but when I shouted his name, he passed through.
Later, David Alaba came and I took selfie with him. So that night, I managed to took only two selfie with two players. But I am overjoyed. Thanks to Mats Hummels, his kindness and his smile made my night.
Dissatisfied and still curious to take more selfies with the players, I went back the next day. I arrived around 17.00, because a fellow Bavarians I met at the hotel last night, told me the team will leave to stadium at 18.00. This time, the security was tighter. My friend got stopped and the security asked if we are the guest of the hotel. My friend answer yes and we got in easily. There were so many people in the lobby. More than compare to the night before. Most of them were away fans that stayed in the hotel. I could also saw some of the staffs walked back and forth.
Around 18.00, Hamit Altintop was also passing in front of me, but I chickened out to asked for a selfie. Minutes later, the manager, Mr. Jupp Heynckes came out. I asked for a selfie. He is so kind. He took selfie with everyone and gave his signature. Then the players came out. I missed some players also there were some players that didn’t want to took selfie, even tough people shouted at their name, they just passed through.
I managed to took selfie with Ribery. After that, again with Mats Hummels. Really, Mats Hummels was so kind, he took selfie patiently with everyone. After I took selfie with him, I said “Goodluck for tonight’s match.” This time, he turned to me and said “Thanks.” outloud, to me! MATS HUMMELS, YOU JUST MADE MY DAY AGAIN.
That night, I also took selfie with David Alaba and Thiago Alcantara.
They went to the bus and there the bus goes to the stadium. Me and my friends, Octa and Fahmy went to the Vodafone Park, bought shawls, and enjoying the atmosphere. They said that watching football match in Turkey could be quite dangerous, but I didn’t see that. They did light flares and some people was holding beer, but I don’t think it is that scary.
We waited outside, sitting on the stair, just people watching. It is so sad that we didn’t got the ticket. It must be really fun if we watched live in the stadium, because it is Champions League y’all! I insisted to stay until kick off, because I wanted to hear the Champions League theme, even just from outside the stadium. But until the game played, I couldn’t hear the theme, only people cheering.
But no problem, Mats Hummels just made my day. I was so happy, I smile ear to ear for two nights, thanks to Mats Hummels. Next year, I hope Arsenal will face a Turkish football team in the Champions League, so I could experience this unforgettable day again.