Buzzing for 'bonkers' Leeds United fans to finally return and forever grateful for singing my name - Dom Matteo
SUPPORTERS will finally be back in the Elland Road stands this weekend for the Premier League finale at home to West Brom - and I’m absolutely buzzing for it.
I suppose I am feeling emotional about it too and that will probably resonate with a lot of people.
We have all missed it so much.
Sometimes, when you are not having the best day, I think everyone just wants to get together with the usual people they sit with inside the ground.
There’s usually a little group who you sit with, whether you are in the ‘posh’ stands or the ‘normal’ stands or wherever you are.
There is always somewhere where you sit and people who you have that bit of banter and that bit of chat with.
That’s what I am looking forward to, wherever I might be for that game as I am hoping I am going to be there.
I’ve not been to a game for so, so long and it is going to be amazing to have the fans back in.
I just want the fans to witness just a little bit of the atmosphere.
I know it’s a bit of a dead rubber playing West Brom, who have already been relegated, but they are going to have a good go at it under Sam Allardyce.
And I think the Leeds players will just genuinely want to finish the season as strongly as possible.
I know there’s only one game left but, with the season that Leeds have had, why not finish it off the way they started it?
They have been an absolute breath of fresh air this season and outstanding the whole way through this campaign.
Let’s be honest, nobody thought Leeds would be the team that everybody would be talking about this year.
And, if I am being brutally honest, I had reservations myself and I didn’t think they could maybe achieve what they have achieved.
But underestimate Leeds at your peril at the moment because they have shown everyone - me included - what a force they are and I think we are going to see further improvement on that throughout the year.
When I think back to myself as a player, we all had certain stadiums that you wanted to play in. But your first game at Elland Road for any player is special.
I played at a lot of big stadiums all over the world but there is just something about Elland Road.
It’s noisier and the fans are ‘a bit bonkers’ but in a good way, not in a bad way.
They are very passionate, they are a one-team city and, in the main, everyone in Leeds supports Leeds.
That’s one of our biggest things, that everyone is from Leeds and it’s proper Leeds.
I’ll also always remember the noise they make at away games. It’s unbelievable.
They only get a few thousand tickets sometimes but the noise they always generate is electric and, at home, not too many stadiums can create the same atmosphere as Elland Road.
Having played for Liverpool, Anfield was always renowned for noise but Leeds is right up there with that.
When I played in the Champions League for Leeds, I don’t think I have ever heard noise like that inside a football stadium.
The only one I can compare it as similar to is when I was playing for Liverpool against Celtic in the late 90s.
It was that kind of atmosphere. Just ridiculous.
With myself, people talk about the Champions League game against AC Milan at the San Siro in which I scored and the Leeds fans were phenomenal
To be honest, sometimes when you are playing in games like that they are a bit of a blur because of what goes on.
But I just know how passionate those Leeds fans are and the noise that they make is second to none, it really is.
I know every other team will say the same but there is something special about Leeds.
They are a one-team city and it makes a difference.
The song about my goal in the San Siro is probably the only song I have never got bored of!
I’m just proud when you get that adulation at a certain point.
It doesn’t happen all the time but, when it does and the crowd do sing that song, it does give me a nice feeling.
My mates always give me a little nudge if I am at the game and watching it myself.
They all start singing it to me to embarrass me and stuff.
But, as someone who played maybe less than 150 games for Leeds, it just shows you what they thought of me.
And I have used that and channelled that right throughout my recovery.
I always think about these moments and what the city of Leeds has done for me and all the nurses, hospitals and doctors.
What Leeds has done for me as a city, I can’t speak highly enough about it.
It means Leeds has become my home, it really has, and I am very proud to do anything associated with Leeds.
That’s the truth.
I get emotional talking about this at the moment because of what I have been through but it’s the truth.
The support I have had from every section has been incredible.
Dominic Matteo's column, in association with Data Facilities.
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Thank you Laura Collins