Having the opportunity to watch the world’s best football league week in and week out in person, is a very special privilege.
Having had a season-ticket at my boyhood club Aston Villa for well over a decade, I have seen some of the world’s best players come to Villa Park and demonstrate their imperious abilities.
There is nothing quite like a match day buzz in England. Getting up on a cold Saturday morning knowing you are in for a day of nothing but football is a ritual in this country that will continue to last for generations. The pre-match burger/beer, the walk to the ground, the sound of chanting, the banter that goes with it – it is a thoroughly enjoyable routine.
Being a Villan, we have had our fair share of ups and downs. We have been embroiled in mid-table scraps, been gunning for a place in the top-four and even endured a dreaded relegation battle such as last season. Nevertheless, we are the fourth most successful club in England and have a rich, illustrious history which I am extremely proud of and grateful for. It is wonderful to support a club that has contributed both domestically and in Europe.
Being a club that is built on a proud history, we have stuck to our principles for the majority of our existence by investing in British talent and integrating the youngsters from our academy and into our first-team. This has not only benefitted Aston Villa, it has also benefited the English national team. In recent times the likes of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Gary Cahill, James Milner, Gareth Barry and Darren Bent have all been affiliated with the club and gone on to play regularly for their country.
Although our investment in overseas talent is a rarity, seeing them sparkle at Villa Park in opposition colours is not. I remember Cristiano Ronaldo in his debut season for Manchester United absolutely ripping us to shreds on the final day of the 2003/2004 season and netted a brace in the first-half. He crushed our aim that day of finishing 5th and qualifying for the UEFA Cup, with Newcastle United doing so instead.
Seeing magic like that makes you realise just how special this league is. Yes, there are other leagues in football that have more ability in terms of technical flair, possession and geometry, but in terms of entertainment, goals and exhilarating football, this is the place to be.
Football is a religion in this country, you cannot escape it. Wherever you go and do, you will hear or see football in some sort of medium. I have noticed in the last ten years that the sport – although it was already symbolic in this country – is getting bigger and bigger due to the all seater stadiums and the money BSKYB has poured into our domestic game.
The Premier League since its inaugural season in 1992 has developed into this global juggernaut, not just in football but in sport as a whole. Being an Englishman, living through it week after week it will never be novelty that will wear off. The excitement and exhilaration you get from a Premier League match is second to none.
It is quite simply the best league in the world!