Truong Anh Ngoc, a Vietnamese journalist. Vietnam just might be the most football-crazy country in the world. My friend Paul, an English journalist, said this often. “I love how Vietnam loves its football. It’s passionate, ardent and sincere,” he would say. As one who has traveled to every corner of the world, his words were flattering. Paul must have been to some of the most football-crazy countries out there, like Argentina, Brazil, or Italy, for example. But he thought Vietnam was the most fervent of them all. Paul had seen how Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were festooned in red and gold as national flags fluttered everywhere, how the people’s laughter, screams and honks of their motorbikes concocted a beautiful cacophony that reverberated through the night. He was here when Vietnam’s U23 football team executed consecutive “miracles” at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in Changzhou, China earlier this January. While the festivities showed Paul that the Vietnamese loved football, it took him a while to understand where that love came from, especially considering how our national teams never made it to the World Cup, or any global stage for that matter. Reaching the semifinals of the AFC Championship changed… Read full this story
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