Despite not having a ticket for the final, Champions Journalist fan report Nick Stuart still made the trip to Paris to soak up the atmosphere in the fan zone
My journey started on Friday night: rather than being ripped off by the airlines, I decided to make a proper European go of it instead. As such the first leg, with my Dad for company, was from Liverpool to Dublin, where we met up with some cousins for a few beers.
From there it was on to Paris, on the Saturday. When we left the hotel at just after 4am, I knew we were in for a long day. Dublin Airport was absolutely packed, thanks to the presence of both Irish Reds and Leinster fans, who were off to Marseille for rugby union’s equivalent final: the Champions Cup.
When we got into the centre of Paris just after midday, it was just a sea of red; Liverpool fans absolutely everywhere. The fan zone in Cours de Vincennes was absolutely bouncing: about 40,000 Liverpool supporters were in there, with many more on the statues outside with banners attached to security gates. Everybody was having a brilliant time in the lead-up to the game: songs, beer and food were all in plentiful supply.
There was a special appearance on stage from the King himself, Kenny Dalglish; other highlights included The Lightning Seeds and Jamie Webster getting everybody to sing along. Every Liverpool song, about players from past and present, was belted out; the atmosphere was absolutely electric and continued to gain momentum as we approached kick-off. It felt like the entire city of Liverpool was there with us in front of the big screens.
The game itself – well, what is there to be said about it that hasn't been said already? An absolutely king-worthy performance from Thibaut Courtois and when the footballing gods aren’t smiling on you, it’s just not going to be your night. So congratulations to Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti on being European champions, fully deserved based on the run they had. And to think it included a defeat at home to FC Sheriff of Moldova!
As soon as the final whistle went, the French Police sprayed tear gas over the top of the fan zone fencing. It seemed like they wanted to disperse the crowd in a way that was most convenient to them, rather than the fans leaving at their own choosing. I was caught up and hit by the tear gas, as were many others – unfortunately, children included.
The flight home to Liverpool left from Charles De Gaulle at 8am. I was lucky in that I fell asleep right next to the gate, only waking up as everyone was boarding the plane! After a quick and groggy pit-stop in Venice, I was back in Liverpool in time for the cup-double parade. More than 500,000 people turned up to welcome the team home and celebrate the season – and what a season it was. I'm so proud to be a Liverpool fan; seeing so many turn out after such a defeat gives me more than enough hope for the future.
See you soon, Istanbul.