West Hampstead England fan on how he narrowly avoided being cornered by Bulgarian football hooligans after match
PUBLISHED: 14:26 16 October 2019
An England fan from West Hampstead told how he narrowly escaped being cornered by far-right Bulgarian football hooligans after England’s game earlier this week.
Theo Ogden and his dad Stephen were at the ground in Sofia on Monday night and witnessed the racist chanting towards Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings. However he said that trouble had started brewing the day before.
"We went to the CSKA Sofia stadium. It's an area which has characters who are pretty racist. There were stickers there saying 'Nazi Club' and there were swastikas as well."
The 18-year-old Bolton fan has followed England home and away for a number of years. He said he heard the racial slurs towards the two internationals, and things worsened. TV footage showed a section of Bulgarian ultras who had been seen giving Nazi salutes leaving the ground in the first half.
"I've never seen anything like that. We could hear the booing whenever [Sterling] got the ball and we could see the Nazi salutes from the away end, which was quite a distance away."
However once the final whistle blew, they realised the danger hadn't gone. Theo left the stadium with his dad Stephen, and fellow Bolton fans Michael and his son Jack. Then they ran into trouble near one of Sofia's busiest roads.
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He said: "I was with this 14-year-old kid who was at his first England away day. We were taking photos of a Nazi sticker on a bin in the centre when there were these three men in black, hooligans, behind us. They came out of nowhere. I quickly put my phone away and we walked down the street. They were about 50 yards behind us. Police were driving around, they knew there were going to be these gangs around us.
"We were in a hostile situation. Then we saw some other Bulgarian fans ahead of us as well. We were sandwiched in and there was six of them. The next thing we see is a police car and we walked quickly to get away."
They dived into the Ramada Hotel nearby. However others weren't so lucky, 20 minutes later two fans came in "blooded up," according to Theo. He believes the same fans who attacked them were the ones who followed him and his friends.
"It was scary. The police did a pretty good job but it was definitely scary when the ultras were behind us. The whole time my heart was beating so fast, I had a 14-year-old lad next to me. I'm 18, so I've got a bit more experience but I was really worried."
Theo is currently working full-time on his football Youtube vlog, where he is known as Thogden. He has 176,000 subscribers and his video in the aftermath of England's 6-0 win on Monday has already received more than 370,000 views.
He said that from the off it felt like fans weren't welcome in the city. "It was like 'alright, you're here, but get your you're not welcome'."
Theo said he believes the side should have walked off after hearing the first piece of abuse, but gave credit to the England side for staying on. He said that he wouldn't travel back to the country if the national team are drawn there in the future, "I don't think any England fans will come out here after what has been going on," Theo said. "It's not fair for the players or the fans."
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