Passion on fire. This is perhaps, the best way to begin to describe the avid football fans’ love for the sport: passion on pure, red-hot, blazing fire. And although the feverish show of devotion has earned them some notoriety in the sporting world, not every story is a cautionary tale. Throughout history, the 12th man has always found ways to come through for the other 11 on the field—in ways that are both insane, and yet, inspiring.
Here are some of the best moments that show how football fans have rightfully earned their spot in the hearts of their favorite teams.
In 2012, FC Magdeburg’s fans decided it was time to put an end to their losing streak. And for them, the best way to do this was to remind the team of where to kick the ball—literally. A number of showed up with colored cardboard arrows which they used to all point to the goalpost. The stunt worked, as some of them claimed, when the team was able to score a point with ten minutes left in the match. Though FC Magdeburg ultimately lost the game 2-1, the support of their fans is enough to make them feel like winners.
True fans are always there for both wins and losses. And in the case of Newcastle United FC’s biggest supporters, this couldn’t be any more true. Despite not having won any decent trophy in around 60 years, the Geordies, as the team’s local fans are called, always show up, game after game, to cheer and sing their lungs out.
For Birmingham City FC fan Rob Shannon, it’s tradition that keeps him going to each game. One that began when he was four (which then led to him becoming the club’s mascot) and is still alive today, more than 50 years and over 2000 games later. Refusing to miss a game, he once discharged himself from the hospital and rushed to catch an away match against Swansea—proving that nothing will stop this fan from supporting his team.
Clovis Fernandes, better known as “Gaucho da Copa” was the Brazilian national team’s most famous fan, and has attended more than 150 of the team’s games in more than 60 countries and seven World Cup finals. Fernandes recently passed away at the age of 60, after a long battle with cancer, but not before passing on his beloved trophy on to a young German fan following his team’s devastating 7-1 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals. “Take it to the final,” he was quoted as saying. “As you can see, it is not easy, but you deserve it. Congratulations.”
Last but certainly not the least is the show of love football fans across Germany have shown in light of the recent refugee crisis. Speaking much louder than the wave of violent anti-refugee protests taking place in the country is the unified message of welcome being shown in various matches. The same message is being used on social media, as Borussia Dortmund used the hashtag #refugeeswelcome to invite 220 refugees to their Europa League match against Norwedian-side Odds Ballklubb.
Passion on fire, after all, can only live in the biggest of hearts—and perhaps sometimes, they’re great enough to change the world around them.