The Fossa Dei Leoni sing You'll Never Walk Alone ... a special moment

Posted by Rushian on May 17, 2005, 02:20:22 AM

Many of you will have heard the fans of AC Milan on the Curva Sud sing You'll Never Walk Alone. It's a more original take on the song than that of other fans who have faithfully echoed our rendition (e.g. at German, Dutch and Scottish grounds). The Milan fans have adapted the song and arranged their own version, turning it into a drum-fuelled, staccato chant. It's uniquely Italian. Uniquely Milanese.

Around the start of the 2000s the now dissolved ultras group Fossa Dei Leoni even produced a CD called ‘Da Liverpool a San Siro la leggenda continua’ (From Liverpool to San Siro the legend lives on) which included live chants recorded at Anfield and at the San Siro. You could buy this from the Red All Over The Land fanzine, who had established good links with the Milanese supporter groups.

But it's another version of YNWA sang by the Fossa Dei Leoni that I want to talk about. It remains one of my most enduring (and emotional) memories in football. I was watching BBC's Sportsnight four days after Hillsborough. Numb to the bone as everyone was, I think it was my desperate attempt to find some football and to find some meaning to it all.

The programme was to throw up something so special it counteracted the absolute vile published by The Sun that very morning, a bile-inducing tissue of lies that saw us rushing to burn copies in the street or throw up in the nearest gutter.

Milan were playing Real Madrid in the second leg of the European Cup that night, having drawn 1-1 away. This was the great Milan, Sacchi's masterpiece (and as he later admitted, modelled on Paisley's European Cup winning team) with the beautiful Dutch trio of Rijkaard, Van Basten and Gullit spearheading Baresi and Maldini's magnificent defence.

The mood on the TV show was perfunctory - football hardly seemed to matter, the presenter and commentators were on autopilot. I sat there, desperately clinging onto my latest crutch measuring 40% by volume, staring blankly at my black and white portable screen.

The game kicked off and not long in the referee blew his whistle and picked up the ball. It was a signal for a minute's silence. I, like many others I'm sure, was confused. I watched on as the the San Siro fell silent. A respectful applause rippled across the stadium. Then slowly, but surely, a very moving and note perfect rendition of YNWA started to rise from the Curva Sud gaining in intensity as the minute went on.

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I burst into tears. Tears which have been repeated when I've thought of that moment since. It remains to this day the quintessential act of solidarity by one group of fans to another. The game continued and Milan ran Madrid ragged, winning 5-0 in one of the greatest performances in the history of the competition and football itself. Their players and fans ascended to legendary status that night.

Because of that perfect act of kindness by the Milan fans in 1989 they have always had the utmost repsect by Liverpool fans (especially of my age). Of all the many things said and done by football fans all over the world after Hillsborough it remains for me the most moving, and unexpected moment.

This is how the Milan fans remember the day:

There is an English song we sing which is the anthem of Liverpool, a song from the 60s with a chorus that goes:

Walk on walk on
with hope in your heart
and you'll never walk alone
you'll never walk alone

One of us had the record with these words, but for them (Liverpool) there is nobody who leads with the microphone, the words seem to come like a shout from afar. So we have tried to learn the words using a printed sheet because many said 'welcome' instead of 'walk on' and also what the words actually meant. We succeeded in learning the song and it made us famous in all Europe because we sang it when the Liverpool fans died at Sheffield and we played Real Madrid in the Semi final of the Champions cup won 5-0.

We had prepared a banner with Sheffield You'll Never Walk Alone. There was the minute's silence and we were ready to unfurl the banner and sing the song but instead the Swedish referee started the game immediately. We unfurl the banner but the moment seemed lost, but then the referee stopped play and began the messed up silence. At that moment I didn't even have a microphone, we started as they (Liverpool) do with the song. I have the video at home and every so often I look at it again, my hair stands up, all the players and crowd applaud and the referee looks towards me because it is so well known, this song, and the chorus rises 'you'll never walk alone' and it was shown so many times on the English TV networks, and I received many letters from English fans. You are true friends and we are always your friends.

Armed Lions!
We are marching
We are the Lion's cave
the lions, lions, lions, lions
We are the lion's cave
Blood! Violence!
The Lion's cave!
Milan! Milan! Milan!

(translated by matty of the website from the original article by Giovanni on the Milan Mania forum)

The 25th May 2005 saw the meeting in Istanbul of two great clubs and two great sets of fans for the first time in a competitive match. It smelt, felt and tasted like THE classic fixture, THE gran clasico of European football in the run up to the final. The rest is history. The greatest final of all time. Two years later on the 23rd May 2007 Milan would gain revenge in Athens. What was striking about both games though was the respect between the two sets of fans, a respect enshrined in our history since 1989 and that simple, perfect gesture by the fans on the Curva Sud.

Fossa Dei Leona we salute you.


i) article updated in 2010
ii) broken links updated 12th April 2014

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