News outlets, pages that share updates and rumours, pages that review football analytically and critically, meme and troll pages, all of it forms the Facebook community of football fans. It is an integral part of the fan culture where aficionados around the world gather in the comment section and celebrate the wins of their favourite club – that may not even be in their continent.
This bridging platform offers a space to express an array of emotions, banter, inspiration, and occasionally it may carry texts that summon tears in one’s eyes. Now and then, one stumbles upon a few pages that are managed by talented writers whom we call Facebook Admins. They are a bunch of fans who behold a unique point-of-view regarding the game. They are bestowed with the ability to troll, inspire, and ultimately make one fall in love with their words. Their viewpoints are like the road less travelled. Their banter game is strong. Many fans write, but only a few can conjure magic with their words and are able to create an audience for themselves. They have this gifted capability of story-telling and analyzing games.
These Facebook Admins are usually anonymous people hiding behind their specified hashtag that conceals their actual name and identity. Though, it does not matter much. As one primarily follows them for their opinions on the contemporary developments of the game and the club.
“Offpitch Talks with Facebook Admins” – S7
S7 is a fan-writer that features in a couple of Facebook Pages named, Real Madrid Edition and Ace Football. He is a Madridista who ventured out with his own page in 2018 that is named after his alias, S7 (https://www.facebook.com/euopeanfootball/). He has got a fan following of approximately 25,000 for whom he writes from the southern hemisphere of the globe in a country named Australia.
What sets him apart is his style; he is not the typical kind to post about news and memes. He is an analyst and a passionate Madridista who uses colour and flair in his writing to induce emotions in fans. Professionally, he is a content creator with a Bachelors of Media degree. Though currently, he occupies his time as a student researcher – writing his Honours thesis regarding the relationship between media and sports. His popularity among his followers can be rooted back to several articles he has written in the past. One of the outstanding ones was on Cristiano Ronaldo that became a viral sensation in 2018. It was an emotional, tangible, and a poetic article about how he would tell the tale of the Portuguese forward to his future generation in the year 2060 – written during FIFA World Cup 2018, it earned S7 his loyal fanbase.
We got a chance to interview S7 and learn more about this person behind the Facebook posts. He had quite a lot to say about football, Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho, Özil, and many other topics in a way he has not talked about it before.
Q. So, who is S7? Tell us more about the man behind the alias. Do you ever plan to reveal your identity?
A. “I live in Australia, but I was not born here. Maybe after a couple of years, I will reveal a bit more about myself when I am ready to get into the industry of sports journalism. I am in my Honours year, and my thesis is about the relationship between media and sports.”
Q. Why did you choose Facebook as a blogging platform? Why not actual journalism?
A. “I most certainly will enter the industry (journalism). I think I bring some different mix of elements to the table, which is unique. I didn’t choose to be a Facebook admin. I used to be a fan who commented on other fan pages and stuff, I was noticed by many, and my footballing-views got a lot of engagement. One day, an admin of a significant page inboxed me and asked if I’d join one of his pages and the rest is history.
“Facebook has more engagement; there is room for colloquialism. One doesn’t have to adhere to word count, style, structure, and all those sorts of things. So, it’s an excellent place to start exploring and then finding your niche. That’s what I use it for, and it’s been so good so far.”
Q. Your viral article “Talking to my grandchildren in 2060 - Cristiano Ronaldo” and “Cristiano Ronaldo - from a skilful trickster to prolific goal scorer” are two of your most delicate pieces. Tell us about it. What’s your inspiration behind passionate pieces?
A. “That was a special time. He (Cristiano Ronaldo) said he was about to leave, it was his last World Cup in his prime years and most of the Madridistas were just caught in the moment and were overwhelmed. I was thinking about how I will remember this legacy and time down the memory lane.
“You know, my dad once met Mohammed Ali for a brief moment of 1 second, and he got catch hold of his bicep. The way he tells me about it and the rest of the family is something special. Ronaldo’s time in Madrid and especially that period where he talked about leaving the club right after winning the UCL in Kyiv is something no one will forget. People will remember what they were doing, where they were, whom they were with, and all those sorts of things.
“So that was a special moment, and that’s why it got so much engagement. There was this vibe that connected so many people. The whole world seemed to be on the same wavelength or frequency.
“So, yea, those emotional articles are something you can’t plan. It’s an instinct, and it happens in the spur of the moment. I’ve never been able to re-read that article. Even if you check it today, you’ll find so many typing errors and grammatical mistakes in that one – simply because I was too emotional to even proof-read it. That’s something unique to Facebook. You aren’t judged on professional practice. If I were working for a publication at the time, that article would never have been written.
“It’s that raw emotion coming straight from your mind or heart to the keyboard instantaneously. Also, you have to be in a subconscious state of mind. You have to be high on emotion yourself to write those things. Some artists take substances to unlock that subconscious world to create their craft. It isn’t straightforward to write such content when you are in your regular state of mind. These things can’t be planned out.”
Q. What is your fondest memory of Real Madrid?
A. “Well, you can’t just pick one as there are so many.
“The 92:48 moment in Lisbon, the three-peat era, and then that Super Copa at the beginning of the 17/18 season. But for me, the whole season of 11/12 was the best period as a Madridista. The football we played was the best we’ve ever played. The players were young and in their prime, we were excited about the future, we had the best manager in the world, and most of all, we just stopped the best Barcelona side ever. It was a mixture of regained confidence, glory, pride, and hope. We gained momentum, the club redefined its DNA, and we found a structure to execute our tactical identity that lies in rapid vertical play, or you can say offensive transition.”
Q. What did you think about those fans who put individual players above club values?
A. “Ah yea, I don’t think that true football fans ever rank individuals over the club. It’s just those who follow Ronaldo and Messi like any other celebrity like Rhianna and Johnny Depp that act as they know it all. I’m, in fact, very open to new fans who are willing to learn the game and understand the values of the clubs.”
Q. When did your love for Jose Mourinho begin? What’s his impact on your life and football philosophy? What would you ask him if you could meet him?
A. “I started watching football in 2006. I wasn’t fully aware of things, but my earliest memory of Jose dates back to his Inter Milan days, and I’ve loved him ever since.
“Jose is more than what meets the eye. Of course, he’s a fun person to watch on the side-lines, and he gives witty interviews.
“However, if you get to know more about his philosophy, style of play, values, demands, and coaching methods, then you see why he’s the best. As a sportsperson who played and managed small groups at a micro level, I can resoundingly relate to his ideas.
“For those who don’t know much about tactical periodization, I suggest you start reading more about it to understand how wholesome a manager’s job is. Jose indeed is more than a football manager for me; he’s something like a professor for me, in professional and personal life. Some people say their idols motivate them to do better, but my relationship with Jose goes beyond that. He’s like a teacher basically, if you listen to his tactical and ideological talks with a keen ear.
“What would I talk to Jose about? Well, that can’t be limited to just 1 or 2 things. There’s so much to talk about. I’ll prioritize about asking how he manages to get his side master in dictating space. There are so many ways to watch a football game, but the way Jose sees it is something unique.”
Q. Do you see Tottenham winning something this season? Or is it too soon for Jose to deliver?
A. “Oh, for sure. I’d bet my life on it. You can already see the shades of Real Madrid 11/12 season in this Spurs side. Their offensive transitions are the best in the world right now; they are starting to defend as a synchronized unit. The team is now beginning to play with knives in between their teeth. Their squad consists of players who are not only skilled but also have a lot of desire. And most of all, Jose seems happy there. It seems he has the support of everyone, and that’s the job profile that suits him the most. He performs the best when a team is struggling, and everyone looks up to him as a Messiah or savior. They are in a good spot now, and I believe they will get their hands on the Europa League this time around and be ready to challenge EPL by the next season or even this one if things go their way.”
Q. Is Jose Mourinho misunderstood and disrespected by the English media?
A. “Mesut Özil stated in his autobiography that Jose talks about referees and what not when he has to take the pressure off the players. He does that to save his players from criticism, and instead, he becomes the target.
“Arbeloa stated that Jose makes everyone united behind a cause. If he feels his side isn’t treated fairly, he will not care about anything and will defend the club, and that’s how the players start defending the club too on and off the pitch.
“So, I’d say that Jose doesn’t care about his image. He protects the club and the players with all he can. Jose isn’t the kind of a man who’ll use diplomatic words and stay away from conspiracy while his club is shredded. He’ll instead divert the criticism and ridicule towards himself. It is a two-way street, though. As a player, you’ll have to give everything on the pitch for Jose. That’s why you see that he’s got an excellent relationship with players like Zlatan, Zanetti, Arbeloa, Drogba, Essien, Terry, Eto’o, Xabi, and so on. If you give everything on the pitch, he’s the best manager you can play for then. That’s why I’m glad Reguilon joined Spurs instead of Manchester United. He’s the perfect match for Jose and vice versa.”
Q. What do you think about Mesut Özil letting his frustration out on social media after not getting picked up for the Arsenal squad? Does it set a bad example for the young stars?
A. “I think we have to wait to know more about that situation. I don’t think Arsenal treated him well. If they didn’t have him in their plans for the season, then maybe they should have mutually terminated his contract so that he could play somewhere else.
“In my opinion, Özil responded in a dignified manner. He respected the club and offered to train and be available while letting his desire to play be known. So, yea. I mean, he even paid for their mascot’s wages. That is a testament to his love for Arsenal that should be reciprocated in some capacity.”
Q. Can we expect a book from you someday?
A. “I think I let my colloquial-fan side out on Facebook, but when I write a book, it will be a lot more structured, professional, and in a more analytical tone.”
Q. What are your plans with the Facebook blog?
A. “I think the page will continue as it has been until now. It’s a fun space where I talk about football, MMA, life, philosophy, and sometimes it gets more casual.
“But eventually, it will be incorporated into my professional profile once I go into the industry.
“However, the content will not change. I’m also available on Twitter if someone wishes to follow me there, <https://twitter.com/blissmediacomms?s=09>.”
Rapid-Fire Round with S7
The 2000s Real Madrid era saw some fairy-tale. I would like you to choose between two players you think would fit your dream team better.
Q. Luka Modric or Guti?
Q. Roberto Carlos or Marcelo?
A. “Individually, Carlos. For a team, Marcelo.”
Q. Fernando Hierro or Raphael Varane?
Q. Ronaldo Nazario or Karim Benzema?
A. “Ronaldo Nazario.”
Q. Zinedine Zidane or Tony Kross?
Q. Your dream Real Madrid XI?
A. “Dream XI. That's difficult.
Carvajal – Hierro – Ramos – Marcelo
Zidane – Xabi Alonso – Modric
Di Stefano – Raul – Cristiano
“I could only come up with this at the moment. Many other players are too good to be left out, but at this very moment, my brain came up with this.”
Q. Any words of advice for Offpitch Talks?
A. “Advice? I like the initiative, and the line of questioning proves you’ve been well prepared, attentive, and keen for this interview. I can only imagine how passionately you must have started this project. Just keep the consistency and learn the trick to filter constructive feedback from the trash. That’s it. All the best with your journey and feel free to contact me if you feel I could be of any help.”
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Link to S7's facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/euopeanfootball/