Supporter Sunday: Biggest AZ fan in Mexico

Published on 07 juli 19, 10:04

ALKMAAR- In the website section Supporter Sunday we talk to AZ supporters who live thousands of kilometres away. José Luis Alcántara Zamora (29) is one of those fans. He lives in Mexico and has supported the club for over ten years now.

It is almost 9.300 kilometres from his hometown in the Central American country to the AFAS Stadion of AZ. Which takes approximately twelve hours on an airplane. José Luis works as a coordinator of Health Economics in Mexico City and he also teaches at the National Institute of Public Health.

How did you became an AZ supporter?
“My first approach with AZ Alkmaar, was in the 2009 season, when they became champions. A year before that time Héctor Moreno joined AZ Alkmaar. In Mexico it is not common for national players to play abroad, and even less to go to Europe. He was very young so people were very sceptical about it. But it actually turned out to be a good idea. I started following him at AZ. At that moment I also realized that the AZ logo has the initials of my surnames (Alcántara Zamora) in it. From that moment I knew AZ was going to be the team I would support outside of Mexico.”

Have you ever been to a game of AZ?
“Not yet. My dream would be that AZ plays against my favourite Mexican team Monarcas Morelia. But I know this will probably not happen.”

Do you have plans to visit one in the near future?
“I am planning on visiting the Netherlands this year. For work reasons I had not been able to go before, but now I will have some time off to come see a match of AZ.  My intention would be to visit the match against PSV, because that is one of the best known Dutch teams in Mexico, as there are a couple of Mexican players that play there: Erick Gutiérrez and Hirving "El Chucky" Lozano.”

What has been your highlight in your time as an AZ fan?
“Wow, I have had many highlights, but I think the most important are two. At the first, where I fell in love with the team, was with the championship they won in 2009. It was the breakthrough where AZ was waiting and when I decided to start following the team. Another that I remember is the win of the KNVB Beker in 2013. It was a special day for me since I also heard that I accepted in the Masters degree I wanted to study. I ended up celebrating as never before. But there also have been dark days, especially in the last Europa League campaign and the elimination in the semi-final of the KNVB Beker this year.”

How do you follow the team while living in Mexico? 
“I mostly thank the internet and social media platforms for that. But as I said before, because there are different Mexican players in the Eredivisie, the media attention in the country has been high for the Dutch competition. Every weekend they broadcast some of the matches on tv. In case they do not broadcast the AZ match, I search the internet for some channels where I can see it. The last option is to follow a minute by minute liveblog on the internet.”

Do you know more people who are AZ supporter?
“My brother is a guy who is also a football fan and with whom I always watch the matches with. I think the fact that I started following AZ, has made him started following them as well.  I also always tell my best friend about AZ. I have the purple third kit from four years ago and he told me that he wants that jersey as well. I said to him that if he will support the team, he deserves it and I would give it to him. So I am It is a good opportunity to start a fan club in Mexico.”

What do you like most about AZ?
“What I like the most about AZ Alkmaar is that the players put their hearts into every match. They have a lot of courage. It does not matter if they play against a team with better players or with greater media power, they will always give everything. Like in life, in football you should never stop moving forward.”

How big is football in Mexico?
“In Mexico, football is a religion. We have a league which I consider competitive, and which has many followers. Every day in Mexico, in the office, in the squares, actually anywhere, football is trending topic. From the minor league team matches, to La Primera División, to foreign games. Especially when the Mexican national team plays, everyone stops their activities just to watch.”

What is the biggest difference between football in Mexico and here in The Netherlands?
“I think the main difference - football wise - is in the tactics that the teams in the countries have. In Mexico we are more defensive, while the clubs in the Netherlands are always attacking. The matches in Mexico can be boring if two defensive teams play, in Netherlands all matches are good as both teams are always moving to the front.”

Regarding to the social and cultural context of football, I think that the main difference is closely with the difference in territorial expansion. In Mexico we have teams on the border with the USA and 4,000 kilometres further at the border of Central America, all belonging to the leagues of Mexican football. I think in the Netherlands these territorial and cultural distances are not so different in the same country.”

Do you play football yourself?
“No, I do not play. I love football, but I am the worst. Even when I was young, my father told me: ‘I will buy you some cheap football shoes, because I do not think you have a future in football.’ That is when I realized it is best for me to be in the stadium supporting, or in front of the TV with a beer.”

Who is your favourite AZ player?
“In the short time I played football, I played as a central defender, that is why my favourite player is Héctor Moreno. I think he is an excellent player. He has matured football, being a constant player in almost every match. Besides Moreno, I admire Alireza Jahanbakhsh a lot, it hurt me that he left AZ. In the current team I admire those who have been playing for the team since the youth academy. Especially Guus Til, who improved the midfield and has great leadership. I also follow Marco Bizot, I have watched the last matches of the Netherlands waiting for him to come in and defend the Dutch goal.”

Do you have AZ merchandise?
“I have some jerseys that I have been getting along these ten years. I remember that at first it was more complicated to find AZ merchandise. I once one the internet found a scarf of the team, but in the end I was mistakenly sent one of Manchester City. Finally, three years ago I was in a commercial plaza and saw a special sale of Under Armour, so I did not hesitate and bought at least three pieces. Now I try to get things on the internet for each campaign. I fell in love with the away kit of upcoming season so I will buy some pieces for myself.”

How do you look back on last season?
“For me it was a season of contrasts. In general I think it was a good season, being in the top three of the Eredivisie at times and also the race for the KNVB Beker was going with perfect pace. But then the time of unfavourable results came and we missed a step in both the league and in the cup (I was very hurt with the elimination in the cup, as I expected them to repeat the victory of 2013). Fortunately, the process to reach a place in the Europa League play-off round ended well.”

What do you expect from next season?
“Of course there is a new coach now and everyone has to acclimatize, but I think that in the Eredivisie AZ will do better than last year.  They will be in the top 3. In the KNVB Beker, I hope we can reach the final again. If they do so, I promise I will fly over to support them. And as for the Europa League, the first thing to think about advancing to the group stage, although there will be intense matches against equal rivals. I think AZ can do a lot to even think about the play-offs of this competition and be fighting among the top places in Europe.”