Going back in time

It was people and emotion that first drew me to photography and this was one of the first moments I captured that gave me what I was looking for over five years ago.

The story behind it is simple. A sweet old Italian man and his middle aged son were awaiting one of the biggest games in their countries history – The World Cup Semi Final between Germany and Italy. Like me, they had arrived early and had proudly placed their Italian banner in a vacant spot.

But trouble soon erupted when a nasty Italian Ultra emerged out of nowhere and put his own banner there, ripping theirs down. At the time, he had looked around weighing up whose it might be before deciding he didn’t care. But no sooner had he done it, the sweet old man confronted him and tried to prevent him from removing their banner and then all hell broke loose with the Ultra being horrendously threatening.

I hesitated at the scene. The Ultra was very aggressive and intimidating and the situation that unfolded was extremely uncomfortable. I was sat in the row behind, with nobody else blocking my view. I was just enjoying soaking up the atmosphere at the time but I knew I wanted to capture this as it unfolded.

I was nervous as I rose my camera to my eye and waited. Had he looked in my direction, he may have got cross with me too, but I was willing to take my chances and as the confrontation progressed I realised he was completely in his zone and totally unaware of my presence. I knew then that I had my shot and I just waited for the right moment, exactly when the sweet old man’s son thought the Ultra was about to strike his Dad and begged for mercy.

Some stewards eventually realised there was a lot of tension and called for help and he intimidated them too, before they eventually collared him for not even having a match ticket for this area of the stadium. He was ejected from our area, but later found his way back to the same spot during the game.

Italy went on to knock Germany out of the World Cup Finals at the Semi Final stage and then went on to win the 2006 World Cup.

I was there for that too.