UK Cypriot Chris Athanasi’s book on Arsenal tells stories of fans from near and far

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Chris Athanasi is a London born Greek Cypriot. His father George is from Akaki and his mother Maria is from Achna. He has worn many hats in his lifetime, working as an electrician, telephone engineer, a barman, and for the past 35 years, has worked as a sales manager within the marble & granite industry, for one of the UK’s largest importers of natural stone.He has also been involved in KOPA for over 40 years, the last 12 as a committee member.

He has just had his first book published called, ‘All Roads Lead To The Arsenal’. A book about dedication and passion for the love of a football club.

The book All Roads Lead To The Arsenal is  a celebration of Arsenal’s worldwide fan base, with stories from all four corners of the globe.
With over 100 stories from Adelaide to Aberdeen, Jacksonville to Johannesburg, it tells of the dedication supporters go to follow The Arsenal.
There is also a rough guide of venues to watch Arsenal games when overseas.

With over 165 official fan clubs and hundreds more unofficial supporters’ clubs, it is estimated that Arsenal Football Club has over 100 million fans worldwide.

No longer the domain of the local supports of Islington, you can find Arsenal fans all around the world. And the book tells stories about the shared love and passion for one football club, over land and sea.

Chris Athanasi’s first Arsenal game when he was aged 9, on the 3rd October 1970. he remembers it well; he was taken by his older cousin Lefteri in his Triumph Stag convertible.
Since then, he has been a diehard fan, following the team home and away, as well as Europe.
In the early days he would go with his cousins’ husband, Photi and a group of fellow Cypriot Gooners. he would stand on the corner of the North Bank. That would have been around the mid70s, the team wasn’t great then but it was happy memories for him being amongst family and friends and just having a good time.
In later years he would go with school mates and stand at the back of the North Bank. they were young and had no worries, so we would travel the country following Arsenal.
When Chris got married Arsenal took a back seat for a few years but he still attended games when he could, even convincing his wife to go to games, which worked out well as she is also an Arsenal fanatic now.
When his children got older, they all attended games together. Some of his happiest times were going to games with his son Alex and daughter Marina during Arsene Wenger’s golden period.
Chris Athanasi’s first Arsenal hero was Liam Brady, and he almost convinced his wife to give their son the middle name of Brady, but she wouldn’t have it. Later it was Dennis Bergkamp. Chris says “I don’t think I will ever see a better all-round player than Bergkamp playing for Arsenal”.
My most treasured moments as an Arsenal fan have to be Anfield 89 and Wenger’s first double. Although I didn’t get to Anfield, I was at Highbury after the game celebrating till the early hours. The final home game in Wenger’s first double season against Everton was also a great moment. The sun was shining, we won 4-0 and it was topped off with a great goal by Tony Adams.
The idea for this book came about when we were on holiday one year in New York. I wanted to find somewhere to watch our game whilst we were away and someone recommended a bar called Nevada Smiths. Being a 3pm kick off in London meant being at the bar for 10am. I was expecting to see a few ex-pats and maybe a few locals, but I was amazed with how many people were there. They were both fanatical and passionate.
On the flight home it got me thinking, if the fans in New York go to these lengths to follow the team, how many others do the same thing. As I looked into it I found thousands of supporters that got to great lengths to follow Arsenal.
The book is called ‘All Roads Lead to The Arsenal’ but it is not just aimed at Arsenal supporters. It tells the stories of football supports who will go to any lengths to flow their team. It’s a book about passion and dedication that transcends just a football club.
The book can be purchased by emailing chrisathanasi@hotmail.com or via Twitter @Teabag61 or through Chris’ Facebook page. It will also be available shortly on Amazon.

 

 

 

Michael Yiakoumi

Michael Yiakoumi

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