And it’s all because of AS Roma

23 11 2010

If soccer has done one thing for me, it has made a feel like much more of a citizen of this world.

Some people like to keep up with current events and news around the world. I watch as much international soccer as I can, and it teaches me about the world. I think Travis Clark, who also writes for Soccer by Ives, said the same thing to me while we were in Toronto. Soccer teaches you about the world.

And it was soccer that led to my new friendship with Zeng Gao.

I met Gao at Gate A26 at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport on my way home from Toronto yesterday. He was by himself, sitting in a corner near an electric outlet, and I needed my computer charged so I went over. I noticed he had an AS Roma (Italian Serie A soccer club) visor on, and a jacket with the team’s logo. I looked at him and said “Francesco Totti.”

Gao’s eyes lit up instantly and he stood to come shake my hand. His English was choppy at best and I can say maybe five words in Mandarin. And none have to do with sports.

Through our subsequent conversation I learned that Gao is a huge AS Roma fan, so I rattled off as many Serie A clubs as I could think of. Then I mentioned the only Chinese soccer club I’ve heard of, Shandong Luneng. That put a smile on Gao’s face, and I smiled, too.

“Why are you so happy about that?” I couldn’t help but ask him.

“Because many young Americans don’t know football (soccer). They know basketball or football,” he said.

I made his day. And that made me happy.

I told him of my plans to visit Spain and Portugal and mentioned FC Barcelona and Porto. I told him I’d gone to a Serie A match in Italy last summer. We talked about the NBA and Yao Ming and Steve Nash and the Beijing Olympics, which he’d attended.

Gao handed me his business card when I had to leave to board the plane. It said his name, and the following title: Surgeon-in-Charge, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Peking University People’s Hospital, Beijing, China.

I’d talked soccer with one of China’s top brain surgeons. How awesome is that? So you see, soccer makes the world a smaller and better place.

One last thing: Looking forward to the MLS expansion draft Wednesday. I think Portland’s and Vancouver’s selections will be very intriguing. Seattle will probably lose Sanna Nyassi and/or Patrick Ianni. Too much upside with Nyassi and Ianni is a solid defender versatile enough to play holding mid.

Probably half a dozen others from that Sounders unprotected list who could be lost. We’ll see.




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