Football Manager Superfan Travelled 3000 Miles To Meet Cult Hero Who Helped Him To Champions League Glory
To many people, Football Manager is more than just a virtual game you play to pass the time; it's their absolute passion.
Alessandro Colombini is player who lives and breathes FM. At the age of 19, Colombini made the 3000 mile (5000km) journey from Livorno in Italy to Derry in Northern Ireland to watch The Candystripes play at The Bradywell after he fell in love with them on Football Manager 2015.
Remarkably, Columbin's fascination began when read a book about Bloody Sunday when he was 16, and he went on to but when he lead Derry to Champions League glory on the popular virtual game.
He then decided he needed to make the trip to watch the Northern Irish outfit in action. After the game, he met star striker Paddy McElroy and asked him for an autograph - the Irishman telling him he was "crazy' for coming all this way.
Speaking to the Derry Journal, he said: "I wanted to meet Patrick after the game because I wanted to tell him how good of a player he is for me in 'Football Manager'.
"I told him I was from Italy and that he was brilliant in the game. I don't think he knew how to react but he gave me his autograph and we had a good laugh about it. Paddy looked at me like I was an alien, he must have thought I was mad."
Colombini did call time on his spell in charge of Derry to take the AS Roma job but his affection for the club will never end.
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There are actually a number of stories where gamers FM fandom has taken them across the world.
YouTuber Quill Glaude from Canada travelled 3000 miles to Somerset Park to watch Scottish Championship side Ayr United lose 2-0 to Dunfermline, calling it "a bit of a dream come true".
Image: Iain Brown/Ayrshire Post
"I play a lot of strategy games online and we've got a great community going," he told the Daily Record.
"During the European Championships last year, a lot of my European followers said I should try Football Manager.
"I decided to give it a shot and ended up going as Ayr United because I have a link to the town through my wife. She spent a semester studying at college there around six years ago, so it seemed as good a reason as any.
"I admit my football knowledge was zero when I started but I've really got into it and the videos I've uploaded are proving really popular. Hardcore football fans probably find my approach to games a bit odd, but I'm always learning as I go."
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