The Italian flag makes an appearance at every Rotherham United home match, its red, white and green proudly flying in the West Stand at New York Stadium.
It’s unfurled by Millers fans in honour of the follower who can’t be there - Italian teenager Mattia Cerutti who discovered the club by chance on a computer game and took them to his heart.
But now Millers fans have started to a fund-raising campaign to fly Mattia over to watch his beloved English favourites.
“We feel really excited about his visit,” said one of the organisers, season-ticket-holder Chris Simmons, aged 30, from Broom, Rotherham.
“You only have to read some of his comments on social-media sites to understand the passion he has for the club. He’s gained a lot of new friends supporting the Millers.”
Mattia attended one game last season, the 2-1 League Two win over Fleetwood, but, as a student, hasn’t been able to finance another trip.
He will say ‘ciao’ to Rotherham again in April, taking in the match at Wolves on Good Friday and the home clash with Port Vale on Easter Monday.
From his home in Novara, an hour’s drive from Milan, he said: “I don’t know how to thank everyone. They are all so kind and fantastic. My family and I very much appreciate this gesture. What incredible people! I can’t wait to come.”
Mattia, who will stay at a supporter’s house during his visit, came across Rotherham United while playing FIFA 12 two years ago and has supported them ever since.
Chris added: “I know we’ve fans around the world who may have moved and are now unable to attend games but this is different. Here we’ve got a 17-year-old Italian lad who not only has a love for football but Rotherham United too, despite having no previous connection with the town.
“Mattia is always able to join in discussions about up and coming fixtures, current players and potential targets. He’s built up a good affili
ation with Millers fans on Facebook and we thought it would be a fantastic idea if we could chuck in a few quid to get him back over here.”
The club are planning something special for Mattia’s visit and press officer Matt Young said: “It is great to hear that Rotherham United’s name is spreading as far as Italy. We look forward to his visit. You never know, he may well be able to recruit some more followers and start up an Italian Supporters Club!”
To donate, visit www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/send-money-online, and the e-mail address is email@example.com