In the heart of Macedonia, in the picturesque city of Veles, a young girl named Martina discovered her passion for soccer at the tender age of nine. In a society where this interest was often considered unusual for a girl, she defied stereotypes and embarked on a remarkable journey into the world of sports.

Her love for soccer was ignited by the stories of courage, skill, and camaraderie that the sport offered. As she delved deeper into its world, her interests expanded beyond the usual boundaries. She was drawn to the allure of European soccer, particularly Italy’s Serie A. A league which featured some of the most iconic clubs and players in the world.

It was during the 2004–05 season that Martina’s heart found its true north in the world of soccer. AC Milan, the then-reigning Italian champions, captured her imagination. The Rossoneri’s style of play, their rich history, and the talents that adorned their squad left an indelible mark on her young mind.

“Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.”

Captured by Kaka’s wizardry for AC Milan

One player, in particular, stood out to me like a blazing star in the night sky – Kaka. The Brazilian sensation had an ethereal quality about him, and with every match, he seemed to ascend to greater heights.

I just watched in awe as he showcased his brilliance on the pitch, making opponents look like mere obstacles in his path. His ability to dribble past defenders and his knack for finding the back of the net left me spellbound.

Kaka quickly became my idol and a role model, a symbol of what determination, talent, and humbleness could achieve in the world of soccer, and in life in general. I marveled at how he managed to squeeze the in-form legend, Rui Costa, out of the squad, a testament to his extraordinary abilities.

Week after week, that little girl with big dreams watched AC Milan’s matches with bated breath, witnessing Kaka’s meteoric rise. She was convinced that he would become a star and lead the club to unprecedented success.

Instanbul 2005: AC Milan heartbreak and a desire for revenge

But then came the heart-wrenching moment that would test her devotion to the Rossoneri. It was *that* unfortunate UEFA Champions League Final in 2005 in Istanbul. AC Milan faced off against Liverpool, and what transpired that night would haunt me for years to come.

As Carlo Ancelotti’s men surged to a 3-0 lead, my heart soared with anticipation. Victory was certain, but in soccer, as I would learn, the script can change in an instant. In a breathtaking turn of events, the Reds mounted an incredible comeback, leveling the score and ultimately winning in a dramatic penalty shootout.

Tears streamed down my cheeks, but amid the anguish, a fierce determination ignited within me. I knew that this setback was merely a chapter in the team’s illustrious history. They would rise from the ashes, and their future glories would be all the sweeter for the lessons learned that night.

Ups and downs fueled determination to pursue dreams

The years passed, and my bond with AC Milan only grew stronger. I’ve continued to support my beloved side through thick and thin, even during the difficult ‘Banter era’ challenging period. The Italian giants have surely seen their fair share of struggles, with inconsistent performances and a lack of silverware.

However, I remained steadfast in my support. I believed that they would one day rise back to the pinnacle of European soccer. Through victories and defeats, that little girl is now an adult, having proven her love for AC Milan transcends stereotypes.

It was through my determination to share that love that I found my calling as a blogger/journalist/news writer. This club and this sport have provided me with an endless source of inspiration throughout the years.

A visit to Milan changed everything

The story of my devotion to the Rossoneri spans across two distinct locations and years. These left a profound mark on my life. The first chapter of this journey unfolded in the vibrant city of Milan, Italy, in April 2016. The team that had captured my heart from a young age, was preparing to face their arch-rivals, Juventus, at the iconic San Siro. A dream come true for me. A pilgrimage to the Mecca of soccer where passion and history resonated in every corner.

But the story didn’t end there. A year later, in 2017, fate led the Italians to the unique city of Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. As I watched my favorite club take the field on my soil, I marveled at the unity that this sport could bring.

The love for this club had transcended borders, and the shared passion among the fans was a testament to the universal language of the beautiful game. The match in my country was a memorable experience, and it reminded me that AC Milan was not just a club but a global family.

From the small town of Veles to that magical evening in Skopje, to the historic stadium in Milan, my journey is a testament to the universal language of soccer and the unwavering devotion of a true fan.

My story, I hope, inspires others to chase their dreams, regardless of societal norms. I hope it helps them to find their own path to a lifelong appreciation of the ‘beautiful game’.

Photo credit: IMAGO & ABACAPRESS