A travelling supporter’s search for PSG hero Zlatan

Witnessing Ibrahimovic lift the Ligue 1 trophy with PSG last season reinforced George Rinaldi’s love of travel, adventure and European football breaks.

The joy of foreign football is a pleasure I have always given myself. It captivates, engulfs and intrigues us. You can learn of half-time delicacies in the Ukraine to pre-match rituals from the support in Greece. I have made it my duty over the past few years to experience European football at the highest level, and late last spring I made a trip to Paris to watch a certain Paris Saint-Germain.

I had visited the French capital numerous times but I spontaneously decided to make this trip after seeing the rather pleasing ticket price of just €20 for a Parisian home game against Montpellier; it was just too good to refuse. I booked myself a two-day trip across the channel. I’ll be honest here: I was paying that money for one reason and one reason only – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He was one of my favourite players at the time, although his recent antics have deterred me away from him somewhat. I created a little game for myself. I was to visit every main landmark in Paris and call it, ‘The search for Zlatan’ and retaliate with ‘He wasn’t at the Eiffel Tower’ etc. Before you mock, it did make the long, drawn out day prior to the game much more enjoyable! So after taking in the sights and sounds of Paris – and no, Carlos Tevez was not in attendance at Notre Dame – it was finally kick-off time.

A short trip on the metro brought me the Parc des Princes and I was quite impressed. Several security entrances confused me slightly of where to go but my basic French GCSE finally paid dividends. After a short climb up some steps I was nicely situated behind the goal – fortuitously the main singing end and full of Parisians – which added to an already cracking atmosphere. It was the final game of the season, which meant PSG would lift the Ligue 1 trophy at the end, so I had a lot to look forward to.

I took some very grainy photos of Ibrahimovic with an incredibly blurred zoom and I was pleased to have found him after much tracking. It was arguably the best chance I had of seeing the Swede live before retirement and he was back and fit, ready for the game. A well-executed mosaic followed and I was treated to a good game of football. Ezequiel Lavezzi opened the scoring two minutes in with a tidy finish before the main man Ibrahimovic did what I had prayed he would do – score. A nice shot flew low past the goalkeeper to double the home side’s lead. Moment captured. Lucas and Adrien Rabiot both netted in the second half to cap off a deserved and enjoyable 4-0 victory.

The trophy presentation followed and I was lucky enough to witness it, although it did go on for an exceedingly long time. My phone ran out of battery prior to Thiago Silva lifting the trophy but my angle wouldn’t have done it justice anyway. The ceremony was great, however, with many videos, fireworks and light shows before the president and manager Laurent Blanc spoke to the fans. Each player received rapturous applause as they came out before Silva lifted the trophy to ‘We are the Champions’. It was probably the least original thing I had experienced in Paris and with PSG, but with affordable ticket prices and friendly fans, combined with travel and culture, it’s worth going on European football breaks. I’ll be returning when I can. Ici c’est Paris.

Read more from George Rinaldi here!

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