Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Today we head to Florida, USA to talk to hugely popular Reds fan Pat Flores. If it's LFC related in the US, it's likely Pat is a part of it. Here's his story:
Q. Hey Pat, good to see you again mate. First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
A. Hey Alex. I was born in Hollywood.... as in Hollywood, Florida, not that lesser known one in California. (laughs) I've lived in Florida all my life, and am now in Fort Worth. I have one sister, Alysson.
Q. It's always interesting to hear how fans across the world became Liverpool fans. How did it happen for you?
Well, I'm a relatively new fan, and it really started with me taking notice of 'football' because of the US performance at the 2014 World Cup where we were so unlucky not to make the quarter final, losing in extra time to Belgium. That really piqued my interest in the sport and so I started to watch the English Premier League.
I remember the first game when I was truly captivated by a team and one particular player. It was October 2015 and Liverpool played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea's manager was Jose Mourinho and Liverpool had recently announced Jurgen Klopp as manager. This was Jurgen's third game after drawing his first two.
I'd heard a lot of talk from fans before the game about Liverpool never doing particularly well at Stamford Bridge, so it didn't look great when we went 1-0 down after only 3 minutes.
It was the reaction of the team after going behind so early that so impressed me; their high-energy game and how they swarmed all over Chelsea. I remember thinking 'wow, this is brilliant to watch'. Then Philippe Coutinho scored an absolute worldy on the stroke of half time from about 25 yards with his left foot. He did it again in the second half with his right foot, then Christian Benteke made it 3-1 late on. When Benteke score, the whole team ran to the travelling Reds who were going nuts in the stands, sharing the moment with them. It was all so exciting and emotional and brilliant - I was hooked and there was no turning back.
Coutinho scores his second goal of the game against Chelsea in 2015
Soon after, I found out that there was a Liverpool Supporters Club in Palm Beaches, Florida so decided to give it a try. I was on my own so really didn't know what to expect, but as is typical with Liverpool fans, I was immediately made to feel at home. The inclusion and connection I found with other fans was amazing, I'd never known anything like it. It was like being welcomed into a family. I knew then that this team wasn't just amazing on the field, but this was a Club with something unique and very special.
Q. It certainly is Pat. Have you had the chance to head over to Liverpool as yet?
A. Yeah, actually I have and I was so excited. We booked a family vacation to England in 2017 and agreed we had to make Liverpool one of the stops. I remember it was fantastic sunny weather and we went and did the usual touristy stuff. We went to The Cavern and did the whole Beatles tour. We happened to mention to the tour guide that we had our heart set on going to Anfield and he said 'come on, I'll take you' - and he did! We've come to realise, that kind of gesture is typical of Scousers and what makes the city so unique.
So, off we went. I of course had my photo taken outside The Kop with the Shankly statue in the background. The rest of the Liverpool visit was amazing, but the visit to Anfield was the icing on the cake.
Q. It's a very special place Pat... so, since becoming a fan, who's your favourite player to date, and also your favourite from the current squad?
A. My favourite since becoming a fan is Philippe Coutinho. It was his performance against Chelsea - and how the fans reacted to it - that convinced me that I needed to be a part of this club. He was such a magical little player, could score with both feet, could bamboozle opponents with his quick feet and movement. I was devastated when he left - especially the way he left. But that aside, he was Liverpool's player's player and fans player of the season in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, the first two seasons I started watching the club - and for good reason as he was truly world class back then.
As for today's team... oh boy, I can't answer that with one player so I'm gonna break the rules and pick one from each area of the team. (laughs)
At the back it has to be Virgil. He's such a clever player, a born leader, reads the game superbly and the Liverpool fans nailed it in the song... he really is 'calm as you like.' An absolute rock, and we will miss him this season, I mean who wouldn't miss the world's best defender? It's not just that his absence weakens the team & squad - it's also that I just love watching him play every week and now we're all deprived of that for a while.
In midfield it has to be the Captain. We have so many great midfielders now, but I have to pick him because I admire so much how he has come through so much adversity with so many people criticising and writing him off for so long. He's come through it to become a true leader, and Captain of the English, European and World Champions over the last two years. He's become indispensable and is in the form of his life right now.
Up front, it's Mo Salah. When I became a die-hard fan, watching every game, Mo exploded onto the scene with that incredible season when he scored 44 goals. It was the same season Coutinho was engineering a move away from the club. Liverpool were losing one talisman and needed another. Mo was unstoppable, incredible and every week - even now - he seems to break yet another record. Don't get me wrong, Sadio and Bobby are both world class too, but it was Mo who was the first to captivate me back then.
Pat's 3 current favourite players take centre stage with The Premier League Trophy
Q. Can't argue with your choices Pat. So, I know you've been involved with many LFC related events over the last few years. Any that stand out?
A. Again, I have to mention more than one if that's ok (laughs). The first would have to be the KopConnect event in 2019. It was the first time I'd actually travelled to an event and it was an amazing experience. The Palm Beaches crowd were there in force, but I met so many people from across North America, the UK, Ireland and across the world who have remained close friends ever since. The beer was flowing, the singing was non-stop for 3 days and we won #6 in the presence of Liverpool FC legends. I was so disappointed we couldn't all get together this year, but I can't wait for the next one.
Pat channeling his inner Elvis & with LFC legends and the gang at KopVegas 2019
Another great event was held in Florida. NBC had a televised fan fest event in Miami Beach. It was against Watford and was the early kick off at 7:30am but no-one cared it was so early. There was, literally a sea of red. There were tens of thousands of Liverpool fans, including a fair number who'd travelled in especially for the event. It was one huge party and once again, the singing, the laughter, the banter - proved that Liverpool fans are the best fans in the world. Just to show how amazing the turnout was, NBC had the same 'fan fest' event the following day for Arsenal v Man City. They estimate that the crowd for the Liverpool game was five times that of the Arsenal/City game.. five times - and we were playing Watford!
Q. How we're all missing those times! I promise, we'll have a massive KopConnect party once we can, mate. Ok, so we're 11 games into the season. What are your thoughts on it so far and which players have stood out for you?
A. I'm really excited about it. I know we've had some major injuries, but we're joint top and looking strong. Honestly, I am really confident and I'm going to say it - I reckon we're gonna win number 20 and number 7! The summer signings of Thiago and Jota filled some necessary gaps and both have looked amazing in their limited time with the club. I can't wait for Thiago to come back because in those couple of games he played before injury, he looked a class above. I feel his impact is going to be a game-changer in every sense of the word
The other one who's stood out is Curtis Jones. He looks the part already with his decision making, his football brain and his range of passing. Also, the clever turns he makes to open up space where there doesn't seem to be any. I am certain he's going to be even more influential and creative for years to come.
I also love seeing Trent & Curtis Jones flying the Scouse flag in the team. One a great defender, one a great midfielder - the modern day 'Carra & Gerrard' if you like. (laughs)
We all dream of.....
Q. Love it Pat! So, any last thoughts before I let you go.
A. I just want to reiterate just how much this club and its fans mean to me now and how much they're a part of my life. Honestly, it's been a lifesaver over recent times. The lifelong friends I now have across not just the US, but the world because of the Palm Beaches crowd, KopConnect and the weekly zoom calls we have. I can't imagine life without this club now.
I want to finish with a shout out to the amazing Palm Beaches OLSC - they're my extended family. They're not just a group of amazing, passionate Reds, they're also a group of amazing, wonderful people.
Q. Thanks Pat - a pleasure as always, mate. See you soon
FanConnect is a blog series featuring Reds fans' stories from around the world, and brought to you by the KopConnect team.
Alex Malone is a lifelong Red and co-founder of KopConnect, as well as a columnist for This Is Anfield.
If you like this feature, we would appreciate you sharing it with all your fellow Reds. If you're not already a member, we'd love for you to join our KopConnect Facebook group. YNWA