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With our men’s first-team squad currently on tour in the US, we spoke with a member of Arsenal NYC, Placide Magambo, to discuss the importance of our tour to our supporters stateside.

Read on to discover Placide’s Arsenal story.

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Like so many of our supporters around the world, I fell in love with Arsenal growing up.

I lived in Rwanda and at that time we had no television. My father would love to listen to matches and sports news on the radio – both the Premier League and Ligue 1. Our weekends were often spent listening to the BBC and Radio France Internationale and relying on what our father would pass on to us. Sometimes he would bring us back European newspapers or football magazines which would help us build on the knowledge of players we had learned from listening to the radio.

I still remember in 1996 when my father told me that Arsenal had hired a coach called Arsène Wenger. I thought it sounded good – someone called Arsène manages Arsenal.

We had to walk a long way to watch any games on TV – it was a trip we often made during the 1998 World Cup. My dad would try to give us an overview of what was going on and how it connected back to the Premier League, so I learned all about Arsenal’s French players who went on to win the tournament in their home country.

My father knew everything about football – he actually predicted during that World Cup that Thierry Henry would one day play for Arsenal, having previously worked with Arsène at Monaco.

So we would watch the World Cup, but generally when we were able to watch matches they would have taken place a few weeks earlier. People would record the matches on a VHS and we would end up being able to record them for a while after they had taken place. The excitement when my dad came home with a video was off the charts!

Growing up, English was not my first language. My father spoke fluent English and French so he would explain what was going on. I took in the rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United through what he would tell me. I still remember when we beat them at Old Trafford in 1998 – it was really special. I also have really clear memories of our match there in the unbeaten season where we drew 0-0 and Van Nistelrooy missed the penalty. I saw that game in town and it was packed.

When I left Rwanda to come to the United States, one of my absolute top priorities was where I could go to watch Arsenal games. But I had the idea that no one in America would know about football – how wrong I was!

As soon as I arrived in New York, I asked people where I could watch Arsenal games. My office colleagues didn’t know what I was referring to, but after a quick Google they recommended going to Legends, a football bar on Fifth Avenue.

At the time, my geography of the city wasn’t what it is now – so I ended up taking lots of transport around. It took me almost an hour to get there, when in reality it was only a five minute walk away.

I walked through the doors of Legends and met Ed Brolin. He asked me if I was there to watch football – my answer was that I wanted to watch football. At that time, I actually didn’t know that the word football also means football. I explained that I was an Arsenal fan, but I didn’t expect him to be either.

I went back to the bar the next week and met David Hirshey – a columnist in New York who was at ESPN. He was in the bar watching the game and explained that he was also an Arsenal fan.

I was really surprised to see how many football fans were in the bar. David invited me to play football in Central Park and he reintroduced me to Ed and other Arsenal supporters in town. I was amazed at the knowledge they all had. It was a really nice introduction from people who have become like my family. When I moved from Rwanda in 2012, I came alone. But the people I met both that day and since have become like family to me.

In fact, when I was studying at Georgetown University in DC, Ed drove me all the way there. I remember thinking at the time that I would move back to New York as soon as I finished my course – because of the family aspect I feel with Arsenal NYC.

I never felt lonely in America because of my Arsenal family. I’ve been invited to birthdays and weddings – and when I was alone at Christmas I was invited to celebrate the day with the family of a local Arsenal supporter.

So how does it feel to have Arsenal heading back to the US? Let me tell you, it means everything. It’s like Christmas for us – it’s going to be a huge party.

The excitement is off the charts – to have the club here, to bring the reality of north London on a match day to the east coast is a special feeling. Being able to experience all facets of the match – the build-up, the anticipation and of course watching the match in person rather than on TV – means everything.

There is so much preparation in the visit on our part. We have a WhatsApp group of about 300 people and we talk every day about the trip. I am in contact with supporters from Canada and I will host seven Gooners – from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa – in my apartment so they have a place to stay to watch the game.

My friends in Africa tell me how lucky I am that Arsenal play so close. For us in and around New York, it means everything

I have never seen an Arsenal community like what we have here. All the Arsenal bars are full when there is a match. In some bars you can only get in if you have an Arsenal shirt. So I know the game against Manchester United will be really special. North London is red – and so is New York!

Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted provided appropriate credit is given to as the source.

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