Not just a game
Eder scoring to win Portugal their first ever major international trophy. Weghorst’s brace, bringing The Netherlands back from an impossible situation. Sergio Ramos’s goal at 92:48 to equalize the game and bring La Decima to Real Madrid. Rashford scoring the penalty to complete the comeback against PSG. These moments have caused me - and countless other people - feelings of complete euphoria. Yet people still have the audacity to say it’s just a game.
I have been a fan of Manchester United for about 14 years now and upon moving to Eindhoven, I began following and supporting PSV as well. I’ve had several incredible moments supporting these clubs and celebrating our wins. In those moments, I’m overcome with euphoria and couldn’t care less about anything else.
While there are other great things happening in my life and in the world, these moments in football are on another level because all the euphoria and dopamine are condensed into a smaller timeframe, the few seconds after scoring the goal.
One of my favorite experiences on a club level would have to be when I was attending the PSV vs Arsenal match in the Europa League group stages last year. It was a match we were unlikely to win after being dominated in the reverse fixture in London. However, the players gave it their all and we had the ball at the back of the net a total of five times.
Only two of those goals counted, bringing the result to 2-0 for PSV. In the stadium, you don’t notice these offsides until the referee calls it, and you don’t see the VAR replays, so we celebrated each of the goals, and each time every single person around me was filled with the same euphoria, you’d see a jubilant smile and a spring in everyone’s step.
On an International level, I’ve always supported Portugal because of my love of the players and ideology in the team. For this reason, being able to see Portugal lift their first ever major international trophy during my lifetime was a blessing.
At the time, I was in India and feeling quite sick, to the degree that I found it difficult to move about. When the game was going on, I was filled with unease which was amplified by Cristiano Ronaldo getting injured. In the end, when Eder scored his goal to seal the Euro’s, I was filled with energy that I otherwise didn’t have.
Naturally, the bad generally comes with the good. You can’t experience such happiness without experiencing some sadness. As a Manchester United fan, I’m no stranger to having my heart broken in front of the tv screen. From getting humiliated by our rivals, to getting humiliated by teams from two leagues below, to losing in a final, Manchester United fans have seen it all.
I’m fully convinced I’ve cried more watching football than doing anything else. Often, my mood for the day/week is heavily dependent on how Manchester United and PSV do in their respective games. While I know that there are more important things than football, the emotions associated with the game is simply unparalleled. I think referring to it as “just a game” severely undermines how much impact it has on one’s mental health.