Above photo: Twitter.com/@JOYPAULIAN
[ MORE: FCB heads to Germany! ]
Ian Joy has lived soccer as a player, broadcaster, and supporter, so it says something that his passion for FC St. Pauli shines so brightly, as if he carries that first match experience from the Millerntor Stadium in the St. Pauli quarter of Hamburg, Germany into every conversation about the club.
Joy played for FC St. Pauli, Real Salt Lake, and Portland Timbers amongst others in a 12-year professional career and works for Fox Soccer covering the Bundesliga, Major League Soccer, and the World Cup. With a big part of FCB’s trip to Germany involving training at FCSP’s base and playing against FC St. Pauli II, we spent a little time getting to the bottom of what makes FCSP such a special club to Ian and so many others around the world.
FCB: Ian, first off, thank you for spending a little of your time with us. We’re absolutely thrilled to experience FCSP and get a look around at what makes the club so special. When people ask you, how do you put it into words?
Ian Joy: “You are very welcome. Thank you for having me. It is almost impossible for me to put into words exactly what FC St Pauli is. Until you have spent time in Germany around our wonderful club you will never know exactly what or who we are.
“That is what I always tell people who ask but I will also add that we are not only a soccer club we are a group of people who believe in a certain way of life.”
FCB: The club is so genuine in its ethic and how it represents itself. How does it go about transmitting it to players? Or is it close to automatic?
Ian Joy: “The first thing you do when you sign a contract at FC St Pauli and before a ball is kicked in a professional game is you do a tour of St Pauli. You will learn the history of this region and meet certain people just so that you understand exactly what or who you are playing for.
“St Pauli is extremely unique and I would even go as far to say that St Pauli is one of the only clubs left in the professional game that allow their supporters to get so close to the players off the field. The players have a responsibility when they sign for the club to learn about the values that the club and our people stand for.
“When you truly understand St Pauli you will give more than 100 percent on the field because you are playing for more than just the badge and 3 points.”
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FCB: Being a big part of leading the club to promotion, to 2.Bundesliga, and playing some of the biggest clubs in Germany. What does that mean to you?
Ian Joy: “St Pauli means everything to me. I fell in love with the club while I was at city rivals HSV. I used to sneak into the Millerntor stadium on Friday nights to watch St Pauli play in the third league because I knew that this club was who I was as a person and the people inside the stadium shared the same beliefs that I did.
“Once the opportunity arose to transfer to St Pauli I grabbed it with both hands and even if I do so say myself it was a perfect match. I arrived at the club at exactly the right time and was surrounded by exactly the right team mates. We had a once in a lifetime group of players, coaches and staff. We all became a special part of history at FC St Pauli.
“This group of players achieved exactly what was needed to put FC St Pauli in good financial standing and well and truly back on the Soccer map providing a bigger stage for our people. I can’t describe how important that is for me.”
FCB: Give us your “Must do” in terms of places and things to eat/drink, and things to visit while we are there.
Ian Joy: “Millerntor stadium and fan shop is a must! If you are not wearing “TOTENKOPF” (Skull and crossbones) at some point in your life you are missing out. We do have a U.S. fan shop if you can’t wait.
“The Reeperbahn is the red-light district of St Pauli and there you will find iconic bars, restaurants and theaters. One side note is one most people don’t know. The Beatles made their name in St Pauli, Hamburg and you can do a city tour to show you exactly where they performed and stayed during their early years. It’s unforgettable.”
FCB: The club is having a heck of a season so far. What is it like following them from abroad, so to speak? And can you share any experiences what it’s like meeting FCSP supporters in the United States?
Ian Joy: “Hamburg is leading the 2.Liga. Both city clubs in 1st and 2nd place. I like the sound of that. I watch every game live on the Fox Soccer Match Pass app. It’s fun and exciting to see the club perform and get the results they are achieving right now. Even though I love St. Pauli for more than just the soccer I am still a winner and want my team to win.
“I have met so many FC St Pauli fans in the USA its unbelievable. When I returned from Germany to play MLS in 2008 I remember meeting FCSP fans in LA, Washington, Vancouver, Seattle, Miami, NYC. It was insane even back then how popular the club was but now multiply that by 1000 and you won’t even be close to how popular we are now.”
FCB: Is there anything else we should have asked?
Ian Joy: “What’s next for FC St Pauli? FC St Pauli will continue to grow worldwide no matter what league the first team is playing in however I want the 1st team to play in the Bundesliga so we can get that recognition quicker!
“I recently heard criticism from domestic-based FCSP fans as to why the club would do tours in places like the USA but my answer to them is simple. We have fans in the USA who have absolutely no chance of making it to the Millerntor any time soon and If we (the club) can help bring St Pauli closer to them we will be making dreams come true and gaining more fans in the process.”
“As I mentioned before FC St Pauli is not just about soccer so it is important that the club visits places like North America, South America and Asia so that fans who know about us can get a chance to be closer to us and we can share our story to people who don’t know about us yet and they too can become fans of our great club.
“It is our duty to spread the word of what FC St Pauli is so that we can one day become larger than life and more people will believe in the same world we want to live in.”