Interview, Eli Mengem: "I was addicted to reading stories about football, then I realised I wanted to tell them"

1. What influenced you to pursue a career in football journalism?

I have always been into reading newspapers on all subjects, and especially love a good opinion piece. When I started really getting into football I realised I could not go a day without looking, listening, reading about the game and everything around it on a daily basis. If I did go without it for even a day I would feel at a loss and that was when I knew that I needed to work in the industry. Another part that influenced me was the incredible football publications that discuss everything on and in even more interestingly off the field. FourFourTwo, When Saturday Comes, World Soccer, these publications, stories and articles could only be told in a sport like football, and I was addicted to reading them… It wasn’t long before I realised I wanted to tell them.

2. What did it feel like winning the competition to go to Brazil and look the Confederations Cup?

It was just incredible; I was stoked just to be considered! To be honest, by the time I won it, it was a relief, I was in Japan for a World Cup Qualification game for my beloved Australian national team and I had spent the whole time there trying to get as many views for the video as possible, as the winner was whoever out of the final three got the most views! Sitting in the stands looking the competition didn’t even feel real. As a football fan knowing I was sitting in Brazil, looking Brazil amongst Brazilians was a real moment for me, it was like the Mecca for football purists!

3. What was the best game you witnessed at the Confederation’s Cup?

The best game would have to be the Brazil vs.Uruguay Semi-Final! The atmosphere was just so electric and because of political issues in the country at the time, the game meant a lot to the home crowd. The national anthem at the start actually brought tears to my eyes! As for on the pitch, it would have to be Italy vs. Japan. At 2-0 up the Japanese fans started singing ‘ole!’ as their team passed the ball around and remember this was against five time champs Italy!

4. What was it like visiting the iconic Maracanã?

It was mixed. I only visited the Maracana on my second time around. Inside it is nice however, it has been refurbished and unfortunately lots of its charm seems to have gone out and been replaced by a pretty generic modern stadia look. Also both times I went crowds were below 20,000 and the energy was a little lacking. Outside still has an incredible aura around it and despite the lack of crowd, to be standing in one of world football’s most iconic stadia was truly something else, I had to stop every now and then and just reflect on what I was standing amongst.

5. During derby days what has been the most intense derby and who have had the best support?

I have been asked that often however I really can’t give a distinctive answer. Turkish fans were the loudest, Roma fans most tense and threatening, Liverpool fans most jovial, and Arsenal fans were the most impressive away section for such a small number travelling. I would say had their been away fans at Turkey it would have been Turkey.

6. Which was the best game you went to?

Best game? Well two 0-0′s three 1-0′s and a pretty dominated 2-1 to Barca and 4-0 to Liverpool means on the pitch hasn’t given us the best of matches to pick from. However I would say Barcelona just because looking their forward line live was such a privilege.

7. As you’re coming to the end of the series with the Belgrade derby, is there one derby you wish you could have went to?

If I could have gone to one. Well that’s too hard. It would be between: Celtic - Rangers (obviously not on), Boca - River (too far away), or West Ham - Millwall.(obviously not on)


8. What does it feel like travelling the world doing something you love?

To be honest, it doesn’t feel real. I can’t recall the amount of times I’ve looked around and gone, how am I here? I can’t recall how many times I’ve walked up to stadiums hearing the roar of a crowd, a crowd I had dreamt of witnessing and then started basically getting teary in excitement and appreciation. It is feels extremely special. I still haven’t come across a word for it.

9. What derby was the most scary/intimidating?

Rome. No doubt. However Serbia is next so that might just take the cake. Hopefully not though…….