Leeds United super fan from New Zealand on 'hilarious' meeting with Billy Bremner and spending over £40,000 to follow the club
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Paul Smith has trekked from his native New Zealand to see the Whites take on West Brom at Elland Road tonight (Friday). It is the the seventh time he has made the visit to see the team play - and he reckons he's spent more than £40,000 in the process.
Paul - who gave his son Daniel the middle name 'Leeds' - said he was “in tears” when he saw the club's stadium for the first time since returning earlier this week.
He said: "Living so far away and not having the opportunity to travel once or twice a year – it was an emotional feeling.”
Paul says he became hooked on the club when he watched their 1973 FA Cup final clash with Sunderland - the first English game to be broadcast live in New Zealand.
Despite Leeds famously losing 1-0 to the Division Two side in one of the greatest cup upsets ever, Paul fell in love with the West Yorkshire club.
He has since made the 24,000 mile round trip from Christchurch six times to stay in the city and watch his beloved team play.
He added: "You're probably looking at least £5-7,000 per trip, so I reckon it's around £40,000 over the years.
"My first ever game was a friendly against Borussia Dortmund but my favourite match I've ever been to was Newcastle at home in 1982 when we beat them 3-1.
"Kevin Keegan played for Newcastle that day and he came over to New Zealand a few years later. I actually met him and we had a catch up and a laugh about the game."
Paul also visited in 1987 and had a meal with club legend Billy Bremner, which Paul has said is a “highlight” of his visits.
He added: "King Billy is still my all-time favourite player. I remember after watching the 73 cup final, I was walking around the shops and saw a copy of Shoot Magazine.
"Billy Bremner was on the front and I thought 'that's the guy who plays for Leeds’, so I bought it and read up on him.
"He used to write for Shoot and I still have everything he ever wrote for the magazine.
"I've met him a few times and had numerous meals with him over the years. He was great company, a really nice guy.
"He was the first Scotsman I ever met, so trying to understand him was actually hilarious.
"He's still my all time favourite player along with 'Sniffer' Clarke, who was a great goalscorer."
When asked what he thought to the last few years of the club's history, Paul described it as “gut wrenching”.
Paul, who works two jobs as a security guard and an airport baggage handler, said: "The Bielsa years were amazing – a dream come true for a Leeds fan.
"Then there was hard times and Bielsa got the boot and they have just gone downhill from there.
"But what the hell, we’re still Leeds mate and we live to fight another day."