If asked about their trip to Asia, most Chelsea players will mention the words ‘warm’ and ‘intense’ when discussing their work.
These are labels that can just as easily be attributed to the welcome they have received from the club’s supporters in Thailand. On Facebook, we have 700,000 ‘likes’, and while there may not be that many camped outside the squad’s hotel base, it is certainly impossible to move without seeing Chelsea shirts and hearing the screams and squeals of excitement at the sight of a player, or indeed member of staff.
Heading up the fans’ representation in Thailand is Danilo Torresani, an Italian residing in Thailand, who founded the official supporters club in the country. He is particularly proud of the club’s activity, and will this week be hosting a party which welcomes supporter groups from elsewhere across Asia for the match against the Singha All-Stars.
‘Thailand is a very touristy place, and we are hosting an Asian Supporters Club meeting, welcoming people from China, Vietnam, India and Nepal, to show Chelsea that Asian fans love the club across the whole continent,’ he explains. ‘That will be on Tuesday after the open training session at the Rajamangala Stadium.
‘Then at the match on Wednesday we are trying to cover the stadium in blue and white colours. We are working very hard to make the players feel like they are at Stamford Bridge. We showed the Thai people karaoke so they can sing ‘Blue is the Colour’, and hopefully we will see the results on Wednesday. I am feeling very confident.’
This week’s events are the highlights in the calendar, but supporting Chelsea here is a year-round obsession, and Torresani ensures there is plenty to look forward to for the local fans.
‘We have a lot of activities,’ he says. ‘We had Dennis Wise here last month, and had a lot of fans supporting for the Europa League final this year. Chelsea staff come here to support us and talk about things we can do in Thailand to show our support, so it was nice for Dennis to be there and it shows Chelsea is here for the fans, not just to make money but to develop the game and show us the Blue blood.
‘We have the Blue Pitch here in Bangkok and we go there every week to play competitions, with the people from Bangkok divided into four different teams. In the next years we would like to organise a tournament for all of Thailand, to come here and join us.
‘The next step for us now is to come to London to a match, probably in April, and we hope we can have another legend visit us next year too.’
You can find out more about the official Thai Supporters Club by following this link to their Facebook page.