For football fans living in North America, the licence to become a supporter of a club is not necessarily the by-product of hereditary lineage - unlike many other pro sports leagues in Europe and abroad, where the environment in which you were bred often dictates the team you follow. As I began to understand football and the passion it exudes, I found it natural to seek a club who granted me the power to at least simulate life as a European fan. I wanted the right to celebrate, yearned for inclusion, and sought to revel in victory - albeit in front of a television screen instead of live in a stadium.
I witnessed a defender by the name of Paolo Maldini, a force in Serie A football for more than 25 years. It was he who provided the necessary link to AC Milan and, eventually, the keys to its clique. Although the old adage intimates that the club choose you, it was I who chose the club. The replica tops in my closest reflect my fickle nature in the building stages of my allegiance to Milan (I even donned the blue-and-black stripes of the Nerazzurri, their great rivals Inter, before realising my heart laid within the other faction of that city).
I was my own agent, and that is what endowed me with the opportunity to translate my adoration of Maldini into a fully-fledged endorsement of Milan. Would I have forged ties to another club if a different player affected me to the same degree as Maldini? Possibly. I feel like I am piercing my heart when I say that, as it is difficult to envisage a scenario in which I throw on a top other than that of the Rossoneri.