A 'Malaguista' from 3,000 kilometres away

John Arild was at the Malaga-Fuenlabrada game at La Rosaleda on Sunday.
John Arild was at the Malaga-Fuenlabrada game at La Rosaleda on Sunday. / SUR
  • The unlikely story of how a Norwegian student became a die-hard Malaga supporter

  • John Arild knows the club inside out and follows developments closely from his home in Norway as well as coming to watch games at the stadium several times a year

"I'm John Arild, I'm Norwegian and I'm a Malaga fan." It's as clear and as simple as that. 'Malaguismo', as supporting the club is known, stirred something in this 22-year-old Languages student who one day would like to teach Spanish and who is now a die-hard supporter of the club whose stadium is 3,000 kilometres from his home.

"I came to Malaga five years ago with some friends and I decided to visit the club museum and La Rosaleda stadium. From that moment I fell in love with the club. From then on I've watched every game," said Arild on one of his frequent visits to the city.

This unusual supporter travels to support his team at every opportunity his schedule at work, as an airport worker, allows. This is how he funds his Spanish studies and his trips to La Rosaleda.

He has been coming since 2016. "My first match was against Real Sociedad and I remember that we lost [he laughs]. But I've managed to make it to other games," he explains.

He also follows a team in Norway: "It's called Viking Stavanger but Malaga is more special to me."

Arild tries to come to Malaga at least once every six months and he admits that it's his ambition to one day come and live here and teach languages.

He is passionate and an extrovert which has made him a likeable figure among the local supporters. "I have met a lot of good people from Malaga who have invited me in to the 'Malaguista' family. Now I feel a real part of it and that is something very special to me," he says alongside Jorge, a fan in the very vocal Grada de Animación, who is his main link to the city. "We came to know each other through social media and when he saw that I was such a big fan, he messaged me. That's where our friendship started," says Jorge.

"I've been taking him to all the good spots around the city, especially around my area in El Palo.

"Though it's hard to believe because we're not a big club, John believes that it is and has found out all about the history and our legendary players."

"Impossible to explain"

John picks up on this point: "What I find interesting is the feeling in the city - it's very special. It's very difficult to describe; put simply, it never dies, it only gets stronger."

Despite the distance between him and his beloved club, John follows everything going on at the club via social media and also tries to keep his compatriots up to date through his Facebook page 'Málaga en Noruega' and also the Norwegian supporters' group founded in Fuengirola.

This all goes to show, then, that no matter how bad things might appear, the magic of Malaga is still being transmitted and wherever they play, they're never alone.