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Football was my first love. I grew up in a family full of football fanatics. You might expect that – being from Brazil.
But I’m not from one of the big cities, nor near a beach. I live in Votuporanga, a small town in the countryside of the state of São Paulo.
Growing up, playing Championship Manager and Football Manager was the only thing I did every day.
One of those days in 2005 I needed a new left-back for my team and after hours of searching for one I couldn’t look past Leighton Baines, who played for Wigan Athletic at the era.
Virtual Baines was incredibly good. It made me curious about the real player, so I started watching Wigan games just to see him play.
I instantly fell in love with its quality.
In 2007 he signed for Everton and that’s when I started watching the Blues – and that’s where my real story begins.
I fell in love with the club straight away, everything felt right – the history, the players, the attitude, the amazing fans, the work in the community… I loved it all.
Since then I have been a proud Evertonian. I can’t thank Leighton Baines – my favorite player of all time – enough for this.
I watch every game, mostly alone at home, and I always wear the pink away shirt from the 2010/11 season.
This pink shirt means a lot to me. It was the first Everton kit I was able to buy. Everton shirts weren’t available to buy here in Brazil at the time, so I had to save a lot of money and buy one from Everton’s website and have it shipped.
I still have the photo from the day the shirt arrived and it immediately reminds me of that moment of excitement when I saw it in the flesh for the first time.
When I saw this kit online, I knew I had to buy it.
Being a huge sports fan as a kid, I received comments that I was a “tomboy”, or that I should find another interest because what a woman would know about sports. So I loved the idea of combining my identity in this beautiful, very bright pink jersey to show that I am proud to be a football fan and proud to be an Evertonian.
I connect with a lot of Evertonians on the internet, especially on Twitter. The online community is so vast and full of fans from all over Brazil and the world.
Finding more Everton fans in Brazil changed everything, honestly.
I was immediately hooked – the story, the players, the attitude, the amazing fans, the community work… I loved everything about it.
I used to follow many social media accounts of supporters from other countries, but it was not the same.
Then suddenly I found all these people talking about the same things as me – and it was so exciting.
I was missing that Brazilian flavor that we have when we talk about football. It was so nice to see everyone getting up early in the morning to comment on the matches on Twitter, talk about the news, transfers.
My attachment to Everton grew even stronger, even when I thought it was not possible.
It’s amazing for me and so many others to see that Everton now have an official Portuguese Twitter account. I think we all feel validated after all these years of looking for other fans! The community grows stronger.
I have always loved football. My parents and my brother live and breathe football, so it was only natural for me to spend my afternoons watching any game on TV.
To this day we discuss everything including Everton games. I don’t think my parents define themselves as Evertonians, but they watch every game that’s on TV, especially because of Richarlison!
I think the main reason Brazilians love football is that it’s universal. It’s everyone’s game.
To play you just need anything that slips on the floor and a pair of flip flops as your lens – and that’s exactly what we do in Brazil. You don’t need a lot of people and it doesn’t matter who is playing, everyone can participate.
We all grow up learning sports and playing on the streets or in clubs. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, you will have access to football.
I think Everton’s nickname ‘The People’s Club’ really resonates with Brazilians.
Two of the most popular clubs here in Brazil, Corinthians and Flamengo, are known to follow a similar line and it’s something the majority of us are looking for.
Not only that, but Everton have been recruiting Brazilians for some time, and we are always curious to see our compatriots like Jô, Richarlison and Allan succeed outside of Brazil.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Liverpool yet. I had everything planned for 2020 and even bought plane tickets to Barcelona to visit my brother and then I would go to Liverpool to finally watch a game. But the COVID pandemic hit and I had to delay everything.
For now, I will continue to watch from afar and never miss a game. Wherever I am, I pull out my phone and put on the match. My friends hate me for this, honestly!
I hope one day soon I will make the dream come true.
By Aliny Calejon, Evertonian and member of Everton FC Brasil Supporters’ Club
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