01 Eurocup Irish fans

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CNN  — 

Russian and English fans may have dominated headlines during this month’s Euro 2016 football championships for their boorish, thuggish behavior.

But what about the tens of thousands of Irish fans? They’re out of control.

In the best possible way.

Some have serenaded a nun on a train.

Others have reinvented Abba with Swedish fans.

And a few stopped to change a tire for an elderly French couple.

In the process, the ‘Green Army’ of the Irish Republic have become the darlings of the French media.

Football magazine SoFoot asked: ‘Are the Irish fans the best in the world?’ Le Monde eulogized ‘The Irish: the model fans of Euro 2016.’ And TV network Canal Plus devoted an adoring 5-minute segment to the wit and wisdom of the Irish, including their mass cheering of a Paris resident every time he appeared on his balcony.

It’s estimated that 70,000 Irish fans are in France. On the train to the Stade de France on Monday, CNN witnessed an Irish chorus entertaining clearly appreciative French commuters.

And before and after their first match against Sweden in Paris, they smack-talked their opponents – but in their delightful way, reworking the lyrics to Village People’s “Go West” to “Go Home To Your Sexy Wives.”

Many fans – and not a few publicans – were delighted when the Irish qualified for the Euros. They bring humor, passion and noise to the championships.

At the last Euros in 2012, Ireland was in the midst of a financial crisis, being bailed out by the European Union. Some Irish fans carried a banner to the games: “Angela Merkel thinks we’re at work.” And instead of running battles with the French police, dozens of Irish fans surrounded them and burst into a rowdy “We Love You.”

Spanish defender Gerard Pique said he would remember as long as he lived how 30,000 Irish fans sang “Fields of Atheny” at the end of the 2012 match between Ireland and Spain. A German commentator was moved to silence by the rendition.

The Green Army have moved on to Bordeaux from Paris for their next match – against Belgium on Saturday. They’ve started early: a giant conga line of fans has already brought the place to a standstill.

Plenty of neutrals will be hoping for an Ireland win so that they stay in the tournament.

And for once, in the capital of the French wine industry, sales of Guinness will likely exceed those of claret.