Rangers fan from Belfast in Seville: ‘I’ve never known anything like it’

As Rangers fans from around the world gather in their thousands in Seville, supporters clubs and bars across Northern Ireland are gearing up for a Europa League final night bonanza.

By Mark Rainey
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 8:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 6:39 pm

Around 100,000 die-hard fans of the Glasgow giants will have converged on the Andalucian capital by the time the match against Eintracht Frankfurt kicks off on Wednesday evening.

More than 90% have travelled with no chance of getting a match ticket, so the Spanish authorities have opened up the 60,000 capacity La Cartuja Stadium in the city for fans to follow the action on a big screen.

Up to 50,000 German fans are also making their way to Seville and a few other smaller fan zones have also been created to cater for both sets of supporters.

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Rangers fans from the Shankill area of Belfast are among the thousands already in Seville ahead of tonight’s Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt

Back home, many Rangers supporters’ clubs are expecting their busiest night in years, with some advertising complimentary snacks and drinks promotions.

Gary Lenaghan from the Shankill area of Belfast is one of the few to have a precious match ticket.

On Tuesday afternoon he was surrounded by thousands of Rangers fans who have already made their way to Seville at the Plaza Europa.

He said: “I’m sitting here with a fella called Ian Gray, who’s originally from Lurgan and who flew here from Sydney, Australia for the game.

Mark Foster (centre) from the Shankill area of Belfast with friends in Seville for the Europa League final

“The fan zone for 8,000 sold out within ten minutes so that is why they had to open up the stadium.

“The website for the stadium keeps crashing because so many people are trying to buy tickets.”

Gary said the buzz in the city is unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

“I have followed Rangers all over the world, and I’ve never, ever known anything like this,” he said.

Reece Seaton and his dad have travelled to Seville for the Europa League final. Photo: Gary Lenaghan

“This is stuff of films. Nine years ago we were playing in the Scottish third division, and we’ve gone from there to a major European final.

“To do it within that timescale is just unbelieveable, and just look at the budgets of the teams they beat on the way [to the final].

“The Rangers team was assembled for nine or ten million pounds – that Dortmond team was over £450 million.”

Gary also praised the Spanish authorites and Rangers FC for the way everything has been organised, and said the celebratory atmosphere in the city on Tuesday afternoon was very good natured.

Gary Lenaghan (right) with Ian Gray who is orignally from Lurgan but now lives in Australia. Ian has flown from Sydney to Spain for the Europa League final.

“I can’t praise them highly enough,” he said.

“This square is just starting to fill up and I can see them putting portaloos out, which they don’t normally do that when you go to finals around Europe.”

Richie Porter of the Co Armagh Rangers Supporters’ Clubs said the county is well represented in Spain.

“We have a good number going. They went this morning from Dublin to Malaga, so they are staying in Malaga tonight and then making their way up to Seville tomorrow,” he said.

“They have all got tickets, but a big number of people locally have travelled without tickets.”

“If they were to go on and win it, it would be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, achievement in British football, whenever you consider the money aspect.”

Some of the thousands of Rangers fans who are in Seville for the Europa League final. Photo: Gary Lenaghan

Richie said he has gut feeling that, 50 years on from the Rangers Cup Winners Cup win over Dynamo Moscow at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, the omens are good.

“To be honest, I think their name is on it, but it’s a one-off game and it’s about whoever turns up on the night,” he said.