Skip to main content

Lone soccer fan wins army of admirers

By Gisella Deputato and Gary Morley, CNN
December 14, 2012 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
Arrigo Brovedani was the only Udinese supporter in a crowd of 15,000 at an Italian Serie A match away to Sampdoria. Arrigo Brovedani was the only Udinese supporter in a crowd of 15,000 at an Italian Serie A match away to Sampdoria.
HIDE CAPTION
Lone voice
Thanks for coming!
Home and away
<<
<
1
2
3
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Story of Italian soccer club's lone supporter sweeps the internet
  • Arrigo Brovedani was outnumbered by 15,000 Sampdoria fans on Monday
  • The 37-year-old says he didn't expect to be the only Udinese fan present
  • He says he has been besieged by media requests, including an invite to England

(CNN) -- He might have walked alone in a crowd of 15,000 fans, but for one Italian soccer fan that lonely experience has resulted in internet stardom.

The unusual story of Arrigo Brovedani, who was the only Udinese supporter to turn up to the club's top-level away game earlier this week, has swept around the world.

"I feel a little overwhelmed, I don't think I deserve all this attention!" the 37-year-old told CNN on Thursday.

Brovedani has had a memorable few days. He went to Sampdoria's stadium in Genoa on Monday evening expecting few fellow Udinese fans -- but he didn't expect to be the only one.

A wine seller, he had been in the city on business, having started the four-hour drive from the northeastern city of Udine that morning.

Del Piero's Juventus love affair
Can AC Milan rebuild this season?
How Juventus won the Italian title
In the space of four years in the 1980s, a total of 191 people died in three stadium disasters at Bradford, Heysel and Hillsborough.<br/><br/> In the space of four years in the 1980s, a total of 191 people died in three stadium disasters at Bradford, Heysel and Hillsborough.

A decade of disasters
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
The Heysel stadium disaster The Heysel stadium disaster

"When I travel to away matches, there's about 200 or 80 of us but on Monday, because of the time of the game and the location I thought I wouldn't find more than five or six people there," he said.

"When I got there I found out I was the only one. I understand that it's cold now, it's a long drive plus, the economic crisis doesn't help, so people are not moving en masse as you would expect. I was lucky because I'm used to traveling and just happened to be in the area."

The stewards at Stadio Luigi Ferraris gave him the option of sitting in the main stand, but Brovedani chose the deserted away end.

Liverpool squeeze into Europe League knockout stages

"The home fans started booing, shouting and insulting ... the usual," he said. "But when I saw that the Udinese players were warming up I shouted out to them saying, 'Guys, I'm all alone here. Alone! You can hear me now but you won't be able to hear me once the game starts!'

"When the home fans eventually understood what was happening, they gave me a huge round of applause. They were cheering even though Sampdoria lost the game in the end. They were actually really nice -- they offered me food and coffee and the club manager gave me a shirt, which was nice."

Brovedani has since been swamped with media requests as the popularity of his story grew.

He said he has been invited to a Premier League game in England by broadcaster the BBC, Udinese officials have asked him to come to the club's next home match and Italian TV stations "keep calling me."

"I don't think it's that big a story -- there are so many keen fans that really never miss a game, so I'm sure I'm not the first one!" he said.

Udinese, which last season finished third in Serie A to qualify for the preliminary rounds of Europe's top club competition this term, has an average home attendance of 18,000.

Monday's 2-0 win at Sampdoria lifted the team into the top half of the table, with captain Antonio Di Natale among the scorers. He personifies the fierce loyalty the club inspires, refusing lucrative offers to join bigger sides.

Brovedani, meanwhile, is happy to support anything from his home region.

"I'm not a representative of the Udinese fan club, I'm just passionate about all things that my region has to offer -- from sports to food and everything inbetween," said Brovedani, who hails from the town of Spilimbergo.

"I've been a Udinese fan for years, since I was a little boy. Udinese represents my region: if you come from Friuli, you have to be a Udinese fan.

"I always carry a flag and my scarf with me in the car. Whenever there is a sporting event that involves people from my region I just go along, because I'm very proud of my origins."

The supporters of English club Liverpool traditionally sing the anthem "You'll never walk alone" -- and from now on it can apply to at least one Italian fan.

A new 'dark age' for English football?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT