Marcos Rojo: The day I was in the away end at Anfield
Everybody knows about the biggest rivalry in Argentina: the superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate.
It’s very famous - not just in Argentina, but all over the world.
The fans are so partisan, they really go for it. People prepare for the game and will be talking about it a week ahead of kick-off, if not earlier!
Everyone is discussing it in the media but in the streets as well, the fans will be building up to it. The whole country grinds to a halt to watch the game.
Not just in Buenos Aires; Boca-River is massive throughout the whole country and so everyone is watching it and hanging on the result.
I would say that is the best comparison to what United and Liverpool have in England. That is why I was among the away fans at Anfield a couple of years ago.
Of course, I knew that this is a very exciting game for the fans here in England, I knew that United and Liverpool supporters really live this game with a huge amount of passion, so I wanted to feel that for myself. I wanted to feel for myself exactly what a derby atmosphere was like here in England.
So the idea came to me to go along there and go in the away section.
It was back in January of 2016. I spoke to a mate of mine here in England, who is a big Red and who always knocks around with me, and he said it was a top game to go to. I was convinced and the club helped me sort out some tickets.
On the day of the game, we set off early from home and drove to Liverpool. We had to park miles away from the ground, so we had a long walk to get in.
I was covering myself up a bit with my cap as we didn’t want to be spotted by any opposition supporters and also to avoid any potential problems.
We were walking past Liverpool fans without any problems, but there is no chance of that happening in Argentina. It’s very dangerous, doing things like that.
You can get hurt, badly. So on match days, the fans get escorted to the ground by the police and the whole area around the ground is sectioned with barriers and the supporters are kept apart. One set of fans go into the ground on one side, the others on the other side. In England, though, it is fine.
So I made it to the ground without being recognised too much, but once I was inside Anfield it was a different story. I was obviously really happy to meet with the other United fans, have a chat or pose for pictures. It’s something really nice which I reckon is part of football, sharing a bit of time with the fans.
Like I say, I’ve experienced being on the other side of the fence, as a fan myself, and seeing my team’s players and asking them for a photo. It was just the greatest thing for me, that the players would have their photo with me and spend a little time with me, so I would never have a problem with it.
It was great to see how excited the fans were anyway that day, they were just mad for the game and I had a lot of fun with them.
I can remember that those fans who recognised me were very happy to see me. They’d had a beer or two under the stands, I think!
I was just stood in my place watching the game and people would be coming up to me, and they were made up to have a player in there with them.
Actually, they had three! Michael Carrick and Phil Jones were in there too, and I had absolutely no idea they were going to be there until I saw them in another section in the ground. I didn’t know if they could see me, though, and they didn’t know I’d been at the game until we spoke about it afterwards.
On the day, it was an amazing atmosphere. The United fans made the most noise, I think. They never stopped singing. I wasn’t really singing along with them too much because I didn’t know the words – I knew the tunes more than the words – but I sang along to one or two and we were clapping along with everything.
I remember the one that goes ‘Twenty Times’. That’s the one that they were singing all the time, about the amount of league titles the club has won.
I could really sense that rivalry between the clubs, a lot!
You can feel it more in the stands than you can on the pitch. Because when you are on the field, you are playing and focused on the game itself and although you can hear the shouts from the crowd and the pressure, in the stands, you can see it for yourself much better. You could see how everyone was shouting and gesturing throughout the whole game.
We were still drawing as it was getting towards the end and I think Juan had the ball on the left. I was saying: ‘Cross it; get it in the box’, and it went into the middle and then ended up falling to Wazza. He lashed it in. Great goal, beautiful finish.
I had a great view because my ticket was in the first or second row, close to pitch-side at that end. Everybody went crazy. I remember Rooney running off and throwing himself to the grass.
My mate went crazy. I went crazy.
Everybody was jumping on top of me, I was hugging everyone who happened to be nearby and I ended up spinning around so much I fell over. It was just great.
Any player always wants to be out there on the pitch playing but, as a second choice, there’s nowhere better to watch the action than the United away end.
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