If there was one supporter who has epitomised the fairytale-like journey that West Ham have been on this season, you'd be hard pushed to find someone more suitable than Jamie Segal.
From being reluctant to even join TikTok, to amassing more than 100,000 followers on the platform, it's fair to say that Segal's journey over the past couple of years has been pretty meteoric.
In fact, his rise to possessing such an audience has come at a similar pace to that of David Moyes' team, as they have gone from relegation fodder in the summer of 2020 to UEFA Europa League semi-finalists in May 2022.
VAVEL UK spoke to the social media sensation about first making videos, his experience following the Hammers across Europe and, arguably most importantly, the beers along the way.
Starting out on TikTok
It may come as a surprise to avid fans of Segal, but when he originally heard about TikTok, the social media platform where anyone can upload short-form videos, he was reluctant to even take a look.
'It's actually quite mad, we were in lockdown, obviously we were trying to find things to do,' said Segal.
It was actually my sister, she was like "look at this app TikTok, look how many funny videos are on there".'
He continued: 'I was like, ok, I'm not going to download it cause' I'll just get addicted. Next thing you know, I've downloaded it, I've put my interests in, so I get loads of football stuff on my For You page.'
It wasn't long before he began to make some videos himself, though as he explains, they weren't quite in the same format as the clips he now currently uploads.
'My first videos were just general football stuff like 'Players you forgot played in the Premier League', and from there on I started getting views.'
However, it's his match day vlogs which have set him apart from other content creators, as he produces longer videos documenting his experience travelling to games, being in the cities beforehand, and the game itself too.
@jamie.segal Sorry for the late upload, what a win that was, one of the best nights of my life. Bring on the semi final. COME ON YOU IRONS ⚒ (enjoy the 10 mins) #lyon #westham #europaleague #football #foryou #foryoupage #irons #coyi #france #eastlondon ♬ original sound - jamie segal
It's not just West Ham fans that have become interested either, with fanbases of other clubs also tuning in to watch too, much to Jamie's astonishment.
'It's sort of blown up and it's mental, I did not expect to have well over 100K on the TikTok, it's genuinely mad.'
Above and beyond expectations
Moving onto West Ham themselves and the journey they have been on throughout this campaign, and much like most other Hammers' supporters, Jamie talks of his amazement at the progress they have made.
'I expected us to get through the group and that was no problem, and then we came up against Sevilla [in the Round of 16]. Obviously it's their competition [...] I was like, "that's us done".'
As is well-known now though, despite a defeat away in Spain for the first leg, Moyes' side battled back for a 2-0 victory at the London Stadium in the return leg against Sevilla, putting them through to the quarter finals.
They didn't stop there though, managing to find their way past an extremely strong Lyon side, including a fantastic performance away from home, as they ran out 3-0 winners (more on that a little later).
The run was finally ended by Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi finals, but as Jamie points out, even getting that far was a phenomenal achievement.
'Honestly, I expected us to lose against Sevilla, but we've done exceptionally well this season in the Europa League, we really, really have.'
'Unfortunately, Frankfurt were just that little bit better than us, they knew how to play against us, they figured us out.'
Of course, for any club, being able to go on a European tour during a season is always exciting, but when you haven't even made it to the main stage of a continental competition for 16 years, it's that bit more special.
The group stage games had a strange complexion to them as far as West Ham fans were concerned, with tickets for away matches often organised at late notice, so it was the knockout rounds when things really got going.
'Seville was such a beautiful, beautiful city, the sun was out, we were all drinking in a little square and we got a police escort to the ground, but honestly Seville was insane,' admits Segal.
Sunny Seville 🇪🇸☀️ pic.twitter.com/JpnlQj3FEo— West Ham United (@WestHam) March 10, 2022
'The actual city centre in Lyon was so nice, again the sun was out, it was beautiful.'
'And then Frankfurt unfortunately, it's not the greatest of places, apart from one little bit, we were in a little square [...] it was nice and warm.'
It's clear then, that even regardless of the matches themselves, the experience that comes with going to such locations is a reward in itself for West Ham supporters.
Jamie probably puts his best, saying: 'It's been insane going to all these cities that you probably would never have even wanted to go to, but yeah [...] what a journey we've been on.'
That special night in Lyon
While the visits to Seville and Frankfurt were evidently both enjoyable in their own right, it's undoubtedly the trip to Lyon which was the highlight, particularly in terms of the result.
Having drawn 1-1 at home a week earlier, the pressure was on against one of Europe's top sides, but Moyes and his team delivered, running out 3-0 winners in the end.
Commenting on that match, Jamie said: 'That night in Lyon is definitely up there with one of the best nights of my life. The atmosphere was insane in that away end.'
'Craig Dawson having a blinder of a game, he really did. He got his goal, got a clean sheet, the whole team just played so, so well that night,' said Jamie, recounting the performance.
'And Lyon as a whole was definitely my best away day I've been to in my life, it was honestly insane.'
West Ham United (@WestHam) April 26, 2022
'I'll remember it forever and ever and ever. It's something that you tell your kids, and your kids will tell your grandkids. It's really special.'
A word on the beer
He'll be the first to admit that he's partial to a beer, and by being able to follow the Hammers to different countries, Jamie has sampled various pints from multiple locations.
Speaking about the beverages he enjoyed at each away day, he recalled one from Germany: 'Frankfurt we had these Warsteiners, they weren't the greatest at all.'
West Ham United (@WestHam) May 4, 2022
But as for Seville, it was a more positive review: 'The Estrella Galicias in Seville and the Cruzcampos were insane.'
'I think that [Cruzcampos] was the local beer in Seville; a lot of people didn't like it, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed it.'
'Those are definitely up there [but] nothing quite beats Estrella Damm for me, but yeah I love my beer.'
As a side note, keen fans will be pleased to hear that the much-maligned essay Segal has been referencing on Twitter was finished off recently, and it too has connections to the aforementioned favourite beer.
And just like that, I have finished my report. Happy days. Get me a beer. Any will do at this rate.— Jamie Segal (@jamiewhu_fc) May 12, 2022
'Thanks for asking about the essay! I actually finished it today which was a weight off my shoulders. I left it way too late, 2500 words I had to do, luckily I did get it done.'
'And I'll tell you what, it's just nice writing about something that you enjoy - I enjoy drinking Estrella, so it was easy for me to sort of get information and put it down onto a report.'
Looking to the future
Finally, while this year's campaign may not quite be over yet, it's near enough the point where people can start talking about their hopes for the following season now.
Of course, whether West Ham do actually achieve European football once again for next year is still in the balance, but Jamie is feeling optimistic.
'We're doing alright at the moment [...] [Manchester] City beating Wolves has given us a massive, massive boost - if we get a point at City we're basically guaranteed that Conference League spot in seventh,' he says.
West Ham United (@WestHam) May 13, 2022
There's even the potential for another journey in the Europa League too, which has brought them so much success over the past few months, but regardless of the competition Jamie has big ambitions for away trips in 2022/23.
'[If West Ham are in a European competition] I'll make sure I go to all the group stage games, and every single game I can really,' he promises.
'I mean, the Conference League you're going to get some decent away days in there, places that you probably wouldn't expect to go.'
And on whether he's ready for a second set of trips across Europe with West Ham?
'It looks like another European tour is on the cards again and I'm well looking forward to it.'