The Ultimate Football Bucket List: Pt.1

In the heart of every passionate football aficionado lies a burning desire to experience the sport beyond the confines of a local stadium seat or a television screen. Beyond the roar of the crowd and the thrill of a last-minute goal lies a world of unparalleled excitement and unexplored territories waiting to be discovered.

Welcome to the Ultimate Football Bucket List, a thrilling expedition into the very soul of the beautiful game. In this multi-part series, we will embark on a journey that transcends borders, cultures, and languages, delving into the essence of football, and uncovering the most iconic and awe-inspiring experiences that every true fan dreams of.

From the historic coliseums of Europe, where the echoes of legendary matches still reverberate, to the vibrant streets alive with the passion of local fans, this series is a roadmap to the most sacred and exhilarating destinations in football. We’ll traverse continents, immersing ourselves in the diverse tapestry of traditions and rivalries that make football a universal language.

Visit the San Siro

Nestled in the heart of Milan, the San Siro Stadium stands not just as a structure of brick and mortar but as a hallowed ground where football history has been etched into its very foundations. Maldini, Baresi, Ronaldinho, Beckham, Ronaldo, Baggio, Zanetti, Seedorf, Weah and so many more legends have called this ground home. For any football enthusiast making the pilgrimage to this iconic venue is not merely a visit; it’s an immersion into the soul of the beautiful game.

The stadium serves as the home ground for both AC Milan and Inter Milan, two footballing giants drenched in rich history. Its colossal structure, with a capacity for over 75,000 spectators, resonates with the echoes of past glories and the fervent cheers of passionate fans.

What sets the San Siro apart is not just its architectural grandeur but the palpable aura of rivalry and camaraderie that fills the air on match days. Stepping into this coliseum, visitors are enveloped by an electric atmosphere, a fusion of colours, chants, and unwavering support for the teams that call this stadium home.

It is a must-visit, but one has to be quick. In 2027, the San Siro as we know it will be knocked down and replaced. If you’re thinking about it, go now!

General view of San Siro Stadium during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and ACF Fiorentina at Giuseppe Meazza stadium in San Siro in Milano, Italy, on September 03 2023 (Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Make Diego your middle name at the church of Maradona

Yes, you did read this right. There is a church dedicated to footballing hero Diego Maradona and one is able to pledge their allegiance to him and change names.

Iglesia Maradoniana was founded in 1998 by two friends and now has 200,000 members, and it’s still growing. And whilst it’s a parody religion, it’s no joke. The Church of Maradona has its own epoch (Maradona’s date of birth), its own version of the Lord’s Prayer, and a replacement for the 10 Commandments. As an initiation process, a baptism of sorts, one must re-enact the Hand of God. No word of a lie.

The ‘Ten Commandments’ of the Iglesia Maradoniana are as follows:

  1. The ball is never soiled.
  2. Love football above all else.
  3. Declare unconditional love for Diego and the beauty of football.
  4. Defend the Argentine shirt.
  5. Spread the news of Diego’s miracles throughout the universe.
  6. Honour the temples where he played and his sacred shirts.
  7. Don’t proclaim Diego as a member of any single team.
  8. Preach and spread the principles of the Church of Maradona.
  9. Make “Diego” your middle name
  10. Name your first son “Diego”

If you truly want to show your dedication to football and to the footballing deity Maradona, how about getting married, baptised, or, yes, renamed at his altar?

Play football on top of a skyscraper in Tokyo 

Imagine playing football in the clouds. It’s possible. Overlooking the sprawling city of Tokyo, right in the heart of Shibuya, the Adidas Futsal Park is possibly the most unique five-a-side pitch in the world. It sits atop the Tokyu department store and possesses incredible views of the impressive metropolis that is Tokyo. It opened in 2001, in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup that Japan and South Korea co-hosted the following year, and it’s been heralded as a football must-visit ever since.

By Nicky Helfgott / @NickyH3lfgott on Twitter (X)

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