Despite having lived in Charlotte for most of his life, he considers himself a scouser at heart and always hoped that one day he would get to see his heroes in North Carolina.
Despite having lived in Charlotte for most of his life, he considers himself a scouser at heart and always hoped that one day he would get to see his heroes in North Carolina. LFCTour.com caught up with him ahead of the match against AC Milan on Saturday to gauge the mood in his adopted hometown...
Liverpool arrived in Charlotte late on Thursday night. What has been the mood like in the city in the build up to this game?
"I think Charlotte has really come alive with soccer since the World Cup and the excitement is definitely building. The game is almost a sell-out and I know that everyone here is really looking forward to be able to experience 'You'll Never Walk Alone' in person.
America seemed to take soccer and the World Cup to its heart this summer. Have you ever seen anything like it before?
"Never. Living here but having ties to Liverpool and England I kept waiting for football - they call it soccer here but it's really football -to finally take hold and take off. We have had a few generations now of real football players over here so I think the time is right. In Charlotte, the ratings to watch football are huge and I think the timing of Liverpool coming to town is absolutely perfect."
What sport is dominant in Charlotte?
"Charlotte is the home of NASCAR - so we've got Dale Earnhardt JR, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and all those guys. We've also got the Carolina Panthers here so we love our sports teams and we love our sports personalities. Liverpool has got a lot of fans here and I think this game is going to get us a lot of new fans as well."
Liverpool's game in Charlotte was actually the fastest selling of all four of our matches here in the United States. Does that surprise you?
"It doesn't because I've been telling everyone about it! I take full responsibility for it selling out! I've been mentioning it on my TV show every chance I get. In Charlotte, we've got a lot of young people - it's a very family orientated town - and the young kids follow the matches. Liverpool were televised in Charlotte a lot so I think the staff at Liverpool will be surprised by how many fans we've got. As Charlotte is kind of central, we've also got people coming up from Atlanta, Florida and Tennessee as well."
You've been in America for a long time now. Tell us a bit about your background...
"My mum is from Liverpool, my dad is from Brighton and they met in New York and then went back and had me. I went back to England as a kid but I grew up in North Carolina."
Did you ever live in Liverpool?
"I did when I was really young. I would spend my summer there with my auntie when my mum and dad would ship me out. I spent some time with my granddad who lives by Anfield and I kicked the ball around the streets there quite a few times. I'm a Scouser from the southern states. I like Nascar racing but I'm also a big fan of soccer. Those two usually don't mix but they do now. So growing up over here, we used to listen to the matches on the short wave radio on the BBC. I don't know if you have ever listened to a game on the short wave but it's terrible with all the static on it. My granddad sent me over his Liverpool scarf which is 50 years old and I've got all of these old pictures and programmes. So to be so far away and to have Liverpool coming to my town is amazing. Liverpool is my home and Charlotte is my home, so to have them here now gives me tingles. Growing up a Liverpool fan in America could be rough at times but with the club getting bigger and bigger, it's become a lot easier."
Why do you think a young lad growing up in Charlotte or Atlanta would choose to support Liverpool? What's the attraction?
"I think our history cannot be denied. There's our style of play and you look at our fans, the sense of humour, the songs, the history - we are not fake and we don't have fake fans. There's a passion there that really resonates with the working class. You might compare it to the Green Bay Packers or the Chicago Bears in the NFL - you are a real fan when you like those teams and I think you are a real football fan when you like Liverpool. Seeing the reaction to Liverpool from other parts of the world - countries like Singapore and Thailand - is brilliant. It's not fake, it's not flash - we go out there, we play and we play to win."
The Green Bay Packers comparison has come up a lot when we've spoken with American fans about Liverpool. In England, not many people would know much about the Green Bay Packers...
"The Green Bay Packers is the team where the fans actually own part of the team. To go and see them play and get a ticket you've got to wait 20 years and it's the same at Anfield. It's in your DNA and you don't know anything else than just being a Green Bay Packer fan. We had a lot of Manchester United fans in America for a while because, in my opinion, they saw a David Beckham t-shirt and bought it because they didn't know any better. As the sport has really grown in America, people are starting to figure out who they should be a fan of. That connection with Green Bay was good because it's working class, it's real fans, it's real people and they have a real passion for the team so for them to go to the match, it's a big deal."
What attributes do you think a typical American Liverpool fan has?
"I think a Liverpool fan in America would appreciate history and the history of the team. They would know the history of the team. You would compare him to the fans of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt JR, as they have good and bad times but they stick with him through and through - no matter what. You never change. If you say something about my team, then you better go and back it up because this is my team, it's in my heart and if you cross my team, then you cross me. As a Liverpool fan years ago in Charlotte, all of a sudden these pretty boy Chelsea fans with their hair mousse started showing up at the spot where I go to watch the match and I don't think they were expecting me to be as passionate about my team as what I am. You cross my team, you cross me. Look out, I'm coming for you!"
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