On another level

In his latest blog for the official Chelsea website, Stephen Rea - our Stateside writer – has a Halloween-related question…

Will young Chelsea fans in the States be dressing as Captain America - our own Christian Pulisic - when they go trick-or-treating this Halloween?

I’ve been watching the Blues for more than four decades, but I’ve never been part of a collective experience like that which greeted his perfect hat-trick against Burnley.

One of the most enjoyable things about following a match with fellow supporters is the shared group emotions. Whether at home with a couple of friends, or with a crowd packing out a pub, you cheer or groan together.

But both in person, and by the obligatory social media extension, it was different this time. When Pulisic burst onto the Premier League for the Londoners it was an American, being watched in America, by fans living in America.

‘He’s one of our own,’ is a common song around the UK, referring to a hometown boy who perhaps even supported the team in his youth that he plays for.

On Saturday, thousands of miles away from Stamford Bridge on another continent on the other side of the world, Chelsea fans chanted the same song.

I have never watched the Blues in a foreign country when a player from that nation starred for the team. Not that I can remember anyway.

I’m sure it’s happened to others. Were visiting supporters trying to warm up in a Reykjavík bar when Eidur Gudjohnsen hit the winner in a crunch fixture? Have expat Londoners been thrilled by a Didier Drogba brace while they were escaping the heat in a crammed pub in Yamoussoukro? Probably.

But the reaction to Pulisic’s performance was on another level. The Londoners have a huge support in the USA, and dozens of fan groups all over the land watched the game. A late kickoff always swells crowds, while his vital cameo against Ajax had ratcheted up the interest on this side of the Atlantic.

Finally, as he hasn’t played as much this season as perhaps was expected, his first league start in two months was eagerly anticipated. The simultaneous explosion on mainstream and social media was unlike anything I had seen before, even eclipsing the 2012 European Champions League triumph.

He’s still young, and Pulisic could be scaring terrified defenders for years to come while dressed up in Chelsea blue. Happy Halloween everyone.

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