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Why I am a fan of.....Villarreal

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Welcome to the refreshed Villarreal USA! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [http://www.villarrealusa.com/fanposts] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [http://blog.sbnation.com/2017/5/24/15685020/why-are-you-a-fan-reader-sweepstakes-announcement-and-official-rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here [https://www.sbnation.com/why-we-are-fans] and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

Here’s my story:

Like a lot of people who follow Villarreal, my interest goes back to 2004-05 and their trip to the Champions League semifinals. They defeated Everton (Liverpool were my ‘big’ English team I supported growing up, so that was cool) and they lost..sadly...to Arsenal (the English team I hated growing up!). So I guess you could say I was predisposed to follow them.

It also happened that CL run happened in a year where for a variety of reasons I won’t get into here, I had a lot of time to watch football, and look on the internet for content. Anyhow, after that I had less time to follow football, but followed Villarreal at some level, until at the 2008 Euros I was blown away by Marcos Senna’s performances. And it was so nice to avoid the entire Real Madrid-Barcelona debate!

What really made me a fan, though, was Villarreal USA, which before SBNation was a Wordpress blog run by 1 or 2 people. I started writing for the blog in the fall of 2010 mostly because I wasn’t working during the week so could follow our Europa League campaign in midweek.

There are a lot of really great things about supporting Villarreal...you get to wear yellow a lot, you learn how to make paella (because what would a Sunday be, after a big win especially, without paella)? And you get to know all sorts of interesting people who also support Villarreal, and wonderful people who work in the club.

When my wife and I visited Vila-real for the first time we were struck by how amazing it really is—this suburb of Castellón, really, has to be the greatest place to be if you’re into football. Two ‘Sports Cities’ with incredible youth programs, first team training open to the public, the team active in the community.....we loved it. Visiting there made me realize how much Villarreal CF has accomplished and what great people work for the club. Last year I visited the UK and saw us win the U-21 Premier League International championship, defeating PSV Eindhoven in the final in London, then headed up to Liverpool and watched us there. We lost but it was still a great day, meeting people I only knew from on here, from twitter, etc. Now to visit Vila-real again!!