Visiting fans added zest to city

Liverpool and AC Milan were roared on by their passionate fans at the Olympic Stadium last night in the final act of an exciting few days, after which Athens will feel a little duller. The city has swayed along to the vociferous fans, particularly those from England who serenaded Athenians with renditions of Liverpool’s traditional anthem «You’ll Never Walk Alone» and the more recently adopted version of Johnny Cash’s «Ring of Fire.» Street peddlers wore Liverpool and Milan colors to attract business and Gypsy musicians walked up and down Plaka’s pedestrianized areas trying to play Cash’s tune on their accordions – a true sign that visiting fans had injected new enthusiasm into the lifeblood of the city. The only disappointment was that more fans of the two teams could not have been inside the Olympic Stadium to witness the match. The two sides were only allocated 34,000 of some 64,000 tickets. A 27-year-old Englishman was arrested yesterday after allegedly selling 28 forged tickets for 58,000 euros. Two French nationals were arrested in Athens while allegedly trying to sell tickets for 1,200 euros each. Police are also searching for a taxi driver who drove away with the luggage and match tickets of an English family. Also 43 VIP tickets allegedly went missing from a suite at the Inter-Continental Hotel. It is estimated that around 20,000 English fans arrived in Greece without tickets. Many of them made Syntagma Square their temporary home and turned it into a poppy field of replica red Liverpool shirts. The square’s marble steps were wet from a mixture of beer and rain. There were concerns that heavy drinking may have led to skirmishes between rival fans but these fears were proved largely unfounded. AC Milan fans also proved to be in good spirits and seemed happy to stay in the shadows. Liverpool’s American billionaire co-owner Tom Hicks said yesterday that looking down from a rooftop restaurant on the singing Liverpool fans in central Athens and then looking up at the Parthenon, he realized: «This is as good as it gets.» Athens enjoyed the experience as well.