Never let it be said that Serie Aaaaargh! isn't generous.In a show of festive cheer, it purchased six tickets for AC MilanÃ¢ÂÂs final UEFA Cup group game against Wolfsburg on Wednesday.Delving into the Christmas fund to dredge up 12 euro, it was to treat a group of underprivileged North Americans who were on the final leg of a tour that had taken in some long-lost backwater in eastern Europe Ã¢ÂÂ had they never seen the film Hostel? Ã¢ÂÂ and were now heading home via Milan and Paris.Yes, 12 one-euro coins for six tickets! So desperate were Milan to create any sort of atmosphere in the San Siro that they were literally stopping people in the street and cajoling them into coming along to what was basically a dead rubber.
"2 euro a ticket? Against Wolves? I think I'll pass"
Having never been to a soccer game in their lives, our ever-enthusiastic cousins from across the Atlantic couldnÃ¢ÂÂt wait to see what all the fuss was about.
A bit of back-story would help enlighten them. Ã¢ÂÂThe San Siro is known as La Scala of soccer" (sorry, 'football' only led to puzzled looks).
Ã¢ÂÂLa Scala? ThatÃ¢ÂÂs so cool.Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂYes, but we arenÃ¢ÂÂt actually going to La Scala.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂCool.Ã¢ÂÂOh dear, this was turning into one of those evenings. Ã¢ÂÂDavid Beckham is going to play for Milan.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂWow, cool. HeÃ¢ÂÂs so cool.Ã¢ÂÂThere followed some Marco Borriello-like swooning over Becks from the females in the group.Digressing for a moment, poor old Marco is obviously a confused young man at the moment, having revealed he canÃ¢ÂÂt wait to see Ã¢ÂÂGolden BallsÃ¢ÂÂ in all his glory while at the same time dumping the stunning Belen Rodriquez, who he believes cuckolded him when she appeared on ItalyÃ¢ÂÂs version of Ã¢ÂÂI'm a Celebrity... get me out of her[e].Ã¢ÂÂ
Borriello: "Is that a banana in his pocket or is he just pleased to see us?"
But back to the real world, and our intrepid group headed off to the San Siro, although on arrival we could have been forgiven for thinking we had turned up on the wrong day.
Vast swathes of empty seats greeted the footy novices. So this is European Cup competition. Roll on the Europa Cup.Thank goodness for the Americans and their ability to enjoy themselves whatever the circumstances.Ã¢ÂÂThey are playing Wolfsburg.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂWolves Ã¢ÂÂ burg?Ã¢ÂÂ Cue howls of laughter. Ã¢ÂÂThey are German.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂCool.Ã¢ÂÂThe Milan players unfortunate enough to be roped into running around on a misty evening in front of least five people who hadnÃ¢ÂÂt a clue who they were included Philippe Senderos, who lasted all of three minutes until he actually had to kick the ball.One hefty hoof later and the lumbering Swiss was stood-stock still, clutching his back before hobbling off.Meanwhile, the Americans took a shine to Andrea Pirlo Ã¢ÂÂ mainly because he always seems to have the ball and has really long hair.Ã¢ÂÂHe could be in a band.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂWhoÃ¢ÂÂs the over-excitable girl?Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂOh, thatÃ¢ÂÂs Filippo Inzaghi.Ã¢ÂÂ
"I stayed onside..."
And so it went on. A request for something to eat only garlands the usual appetising fare found at Italian football grounds.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs like being at the zoo: you wave frantically and a surly Ã¢ÂÂkeeperÃ¢ÂÂ who hasnÃ¢ÂÂt washed this side of Thanksgiving lobs you a bag of nuts or a box of crackers.Italian food is the best in the world, unfortunately Italians only eat it at home or in restaurants.Ã¢ÂÂDonÃ¢ÂÂt eat too many nuts, weÃ¢ÂÂre going for pizza later.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂCool.Ã¢ÂÂ LetÃ¢ÂÂs hope Beckham is this easily pleased when he hits town on Saturday.