Are You Watching Euro Cup?

Posted by Dani on June 23, 2012

Note: Included at the end is a special study aid to help you learn important things about soccer. Very important.

I remember when I first became a soccer fan. It was in 1982 when Italy won the World Cup. My family needed to visit a funeral home at the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy at Dufferin and St. Clair right after the team’s big win. I can’t imagine my father actually walking through that celebratory mayhem otherwise. I was overwhelmed by the huge patriotic crowd. And I remember that year the Azzurri boys wore the cutest loose white shorts – shorter than the current style. There were a lot of nice tight asses running down that field. Oops, did I say asses? Anyway, I was kind of hooked.

Now I’m not really a proper fan. I don’t really pay much attention to actual soccer details. I care mainly about the drama. I love the heartfelt way the Italians sing the national anthem with their arms around each other and their eyes closed, captain and legendary goalie Gigi Buffon singing loud and off key, in contrast to the cool demeanor of the clean cut Germans. I love how his teammates clamped their hands over striker Mario Balotelli’s mouth after he came in as a sub and made a breathtaking goal against Ireland, probably to keep the volatile player from causing himself some more trouble with the coach. But the best drama was in World Cup 2006 when the Italians beat France to take the title. In the final, French superstar Zinedine Zidane was ejected during the last 10 minutes of his professional career after losing his cool and headbutting Mario Materazzi of Italy, and then watched his short handed team lose in penalty kicks. The legendary Zizou should have been vilified by the French, but instead was received as a hero by his countrymen who understood his need to defend his sister’s honour. Defend his sister’s honour? Headbutting? Where else would this happen but in soccer.

the famous headbutt

After the win that year, we celebrated by heading down to St. Clair with friends to join thousands of others fans. We even gave the dog another middle name in honour of our hero, Gianluigi Buffon – Sky Luca became Sky Luca Luigi. Since I’m in a “mixed” marriage with a hubby who’s roots are German, we had to agree to add the name Heinz if Germany ever wins.

These days, I never miss a chance to root for my team in the big tournaments, like the Euro cup. We have a lot of fun with it as a family. We have team t-shirts, and I just bought the new bug her own car flag. We often watch games with soccer fan friends, who usually root for either Italy or Germany, making these matches great fun. We meet in a bar, or at someone’s house. Usually there is some themed food – a nice German beer, or cacciatore sausage and slivers of parmesan at halftime and a shot of espresso after the game.

So why don’t you check out some of the remaining games? Get some friends together at your place or hit up a great sports bar. Here’s what you need to know. Sunday my team plays England, and the winner of this match goes on to meet Germany in the semi-final next Thursday. Yesterday Portugal beat Croatia with the winning goal scored by glamorous Cristiano Ronaldo to secure a place in the semi final, where they’ll meet the winner of the Spain vs. France game. Spain’s superstar goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas has a gorgeous and stylish girlfriend, Jesús Navas has stunning eyes, Italian Mario Balotelli is unpredictable, and Italy had better win cause the fans are brutal when they lose.

If you’re looking for a bar, here are some great ideas. Watch the Italians play at the Café Diplomatico or Il Gatto Nero on College while having a Moretti and pizza. Grab some wienerschnitzel with German fans at The Musket at 40 Advance Road, and meet some French ones at Didier Restaurant at 1496 Yonge. If you’re rooting for Spain, head to El Rancho on College.

Just for fun, here is one of my favourite videos showing the Italian team practicing their dramatic field moves.

And here’s a shot of the 2010 Italian squad in their Dolce & Gabbana designed suits. Isn’t this enough to make you a fan?

Now, if you’re going to be a fan, it’s very important to learn the Italian word for soccer: calcio, pronounced “cal-chi-oh”. Repeat, C-A-L-C-I-O. Here is a study aid for you:



Photo Credits:
Cinquecento photo: reportergimmi on Flickr

Zidane headbutt photo:  John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

2006 World Cup Win:  Toledo Blade

2010 Official Team photo:  Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Italian players in locker room:  courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana


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