There’s something special about South American footballers, whether that be the tenacity of Alexis Sanchez or the memorising skill of Neymar, whenever a player comes from such a long distance away with English often not in their vocabulary, they possess all of the ingredients to become a fans favourite.
A lot is often said about the necessity of having a British core to a squad, for every Burnley that relies on its British unit is a multi-national squad that can be equally together, like my club Watford who featured nine different nationalities at the weekend. And that group of players are together as one, so to suggest the need to have English players like many have thrown at Watford in previous years is a myth, no matter what nationality or background, it’s all about the individual and teams character.
Past and present, my favourite players have been from South America, Fernando Forestieri became a fans favourite at Vicarage Road for embracing the club as his own, there’s something that really creates a bond between player and crowd when a man born in Rosaria, Argentina for example seems to love the club just as much as you. The growth of social media and increasing media exposure allows fans to get to know their players more, this of course played a part in increasing Forestieri’s popularity with his almost child like antics off the pitch helping to create a connection come Saturday, this is important for fans because we know we can’t rely on results going well but when there’s a feel good factor it goes a long way.
Of course this is not black and white, many South American players will not have the same passion, vigour or flare out on the pitch but certain forwards can really entertain and that helps. You never knew what Forestieri was capable of, for good or bad, either way something was going to happen. You simply don’t get this with English players, any flair or technique has been coached out of them and replaced by hard work and physical prowess instead. That’s what makes South American’s more special.
And now to Richarlison, a player with a story always helps, from the streets of Brazil to the riches of the Premier League, that willingness to see an underdog succeed creates a desire to see that player fulfil their dreams. Richarlison would not have heard of Watford but he sure has embraced the club, he plays with the mindset of a fan with non-stop running, a never say die attitude, and that Brazilian flair that means he is a real joy to watch technically.
As I’ve mentioned, it isn’t simply about being South American, football fans love to see players playing just like they would if given half the chance. Knowing someone that is from such a different culture thousands of miles away who can embrace your passion adds to it all and along with the tenacity and iconic style of South Americans makes it extra special.
Does the nationality help when it comes to being a fans favourite? Let us know your thoughts on this discussion in the comments below!
featured image by Sky Sports