Football fan quits job to travel around the world watching games

October 30, 2019

Ever heard of the 92 club?

In order to join, members have to attended a game at every single one of the 92 grounds in the Football League.

That takes an extraordinary amount of dedication – just think of all those early starts for away days.

However, one woman has gone to even more extraordinary lengths to see the world’s best stadia.

Jessica Malone spoke to BBC Sport to cover her remarkable story after quitting her job, being left with no home, and then travelling to 13 countries.

Having worked for an environmental consultancy firm for 10 years, Malone handed in her notice early to attend this summer’s Women’s World Cup in France.

It’s a journey that has taken the American to 13 different countries, 44 stadia, and 60 different games.

That’s included plenty of Premier League action as in England, she’s visited Old Trafford, Anfield, Wembley, the Emirates, Stamford Bridge and the Etihad.

On the continent, she’s also made her way through Spain, France, Italy, and Hungary, taking in Camp Nou and the San Siro in the process.

What a life. Her Instagram ‘Soccer Sabbatical’ can be seen here.

We’ll leave it to her to explain…

“It was unexpected. I had actually been living at a job site for six months with all my belongings in storage,” she said.

“I didn’t have a place to live so when I quit I hadn’t put all my travel plans together but just knew I had to leave and figure it out later.

“I thought about the number one thing I wanted to do and that was seeing Lionel Messi play. I had certain stadiums and teams in mind that I thought, if I don’t see them play during this time in my life, when will I do it?”

Malone loves football so much she named her dog Zizou after Zinedine Zidane following the 1998 World Cup.

Far from a glory-hunter, she also has a soft spot for Newcastle United and ranks St James’ Park among the best grounds she’s been to.

“I saw Newcastle’s Premier League win over Manchester United and it was incredible,” she explained.

“I love older stadiums so that one was really special. I had been looking forward to getting to it for quite some time.”

Most importantly, though, she has fulfilled her dream of seeing Messi – once against Leganes, and again in the first leg of the 2019 Champions League semi-final in which Barcelona beat Liverpool 3-0.

Good job she didn’t attend the second leg…

She added:

“Watching Messi play was incredible. Everything goes through him. I have watched so many football games but to actually see him play was magical.”

Nonetheless, she also reflected on some of the challenges involved in travelling as a solo female.

“Because I’m unemployed, I had time to do full research on this stuff. I love daytime kick-offs but in Europe they were often later.

“I try to be careful. I don’t wear anything flashy and I don’t really drink when I go to games by myself.”

Malone is quite literally living every football fan’s dream. It takes an awful lot of planning and risk, but the experience must be incredible.

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