In the first of what is hopefully a series of interviews with Kopites from around the globe, we meet Obaydah Al-Namer, a 22 year old from Syria, pictured below in his beloved Reds jersey just before the magical night in March when we put 4 past Real Madrid without reply.
Enjoy the interview!
Ok, so first can you give us some background info about yourself, such as your name, your age and where your from and of course how long have you been supporting Liverpool:
I’m Obaydah Al-Namer from Syria – the city of Aleppo. I’m 22 years old. I’ve been supporting the reds since I was 4
I was born in Britain in Manchester, but went to Bangor with my family as my father was a P.H.D student at Bangor University. He was a Liverpool maniac (who wasn’t in the 80s?). So by default I was a Liverpool fan. The stick abuse I received from my friends at Cae Top School (most of them where mancs) drove me on to support Liverpool more & more.
Are there many Liverpool fans in Syria?
I returned with my Family to Syria in 1995, but for several reasons I couldn’t keep in touch with Liverpool. I finally came in touch with the Kop via the Internet, after the unprecedented media attention to Liverpool & its new manager Rafa Benitez: the man who had recently led Valencia to a double in Spain.
I’m sorry to say this, but Most of the fans in Syria are Mancs, but since the Rafalution came & the 2005 – 2007 Champions League Finals, and the capture of Torres, the number of supporters has increased rapidly, now I can watch all Liverpool’s matches in any Cafe simply due to the high demand for Liverpool’s matches, but lot more work should be done. Surprisingly the number of Arabic web sites and media journalists supporting Liverpool has increased in the last couple of years.
What is the feeling in Syria about LFC being sponsored by a drinks company?
It’s not a big deal in Syria as we are an open minded country you’re free to do whatever you like as long as you stay away from internal politics, It’s not like Saudi Arabia a very conservative society, we have lots of Christians, Armens, Kurds, people from Turkmanestan, so it’s a tasty blend. Thus as long as we keep winning it won’t be a big deal. For example many buy the Real shirt even though they are sponsored by a bet company, so as long as we are not directly sponsoring the company it’s ok.
Are replica shirts a common sight or is this an issue?
Most of the replica shirts here in Syria come with a different sponsor or Logo, for example: metro, or Cansberg, some of the manufactureres here keep the original logo of Carlsberg.
With our 17 yr association with Carlsberg coming to end this year, will this lead to more shirts sold in the Middle East?
Yes, of course it’ll lead to more (replica) not original shirts sold, because many people from Saudi Arabia or the UAE for example, love to buy the shirt but are put off by the Carlsberg sponsorship on the shirt. But even if the sales increase to 1000 % Liverpool won’t gain a single penny, because most of them are made in Syria and sold for 3-4$, most of the people here can’t afford to buy the 90$ Liverpool shirt, It’s available here in Syria in the Adidias outlets, but it’s very expensive in comparison to the income here which is 200-300 $ monthly, so Liverpool & Adidas should work out a solution to increase the sale of shirts & reduce the price of them by making a special edition for the 3d world??
In your time following the men from Anfield, what has been your a) most memorable occasion, b) favourite goal, and c) best player you have seen playing for LFC?
A very tough question but I’ll answer it.
My most memorable occasion was watching the ‘Kings of comebacks’ beat Milan in that crazy final in Istanbul 2005. The hair on the back of my neck stands when I remember that game.
B) Torres’ goal Vs Arsenal 2008 in the Champions League, simply FT.
C) Stevie G the best Liverpool player ever.
With the anti-Rafa brigade seemingly growing with each passing game, are you anti or pro Rafa, and why?
Pro-Rafa: Because he made us dream
How would you feel about having a Middle Eastern owner?
There aren’t many out there, are there?
With recent reports of financial problems in Dubai, what do you think would have happened if DIC owned LFC?
These American jokes are a blessing in disguise ;)
With the January transfer window just around the corner, who would you like to see shipped out and who would you like to see coming in?
Well I have to be realistic, who would refuse Aguero, Silva & Philip Lahm? But with our current financial situation, it’s better to extend the contracts of Reina & Javier rather than buying in winter. A couple of loans would be nice, a backup player for El-Niño, like RVN (Mr. Horse face)? Voronin should be shipped out ASAP!
After going so close to the title last season, what do you think has gone wrong this term?
Rafa should have been granted the sufficient funds to build on last year’s fantastic run, but instead of giving him the funds, the owners sought the cash from the ‘Keane transfer’, even Sunderland outspent us!
Furthermore the successive injuries to the defenders disjointed the balance of the team, Gerrard & Jamie’s dip in form. Rafa was never able to play his best XI.
Who do we miss more, Xabi or Sami?
Definitely we miss Xabi’s vision(it was obvious yesterday) he always had a match winning pass inside him, It’s apparent from Gerrard’s body language that he misses Xabi Alonso, Lucas with utmost respect can’t fill the hole Xabi left in our midfield. Sami is a legend, but last season he was more a squad player & rarely played, with Agger returning this year his chances of playing were slim. I wish him good luck with Bayer Leverkusen.
With the digital era upon us and the proliferation of the internet, is it easy to keep up to date with news of Liverpool FC from distance?
Its very easy, nowadays we have the internet via computer or mobile, several Liverpool fan sites, & Twitter, so we can easily stay in touch with Liverpool’s news
Do you get to see many live games?
All of them, I never miss any game!
Have you ever been to Anfield?
Yeah but I was too small to remember (2 years), but I wish to go in the near future.
Of the young players at the club, who do you think will have the biggest impact on the first team in the season or two?
I rate both Pacheco & Nemeth highly, But Kelly had a brilliant cameo against Lyon as a RB; the only positive that night.
Finally, I’d like to thank you for your time answering my questions in what will hopefully become a series of interviews with Kopites from around the world. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
Many thanks to Mr Julian Lee who took the responsibility to conduct this interview & for putting massive effort and time in-order to make this interview as good as possible. Many thanks to Empire of the kop, for giving me the chance to share& express my love & passion for Liverpool FC with my fellow Kopites in the world. YNWA