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Some strikers always score at the Emirates Stadium while some goalkeepers always keep cleansheets at Upton Park, but for The Secret Footballer there's only one home of football...

Last Updated: 15/11/12 at 16:58 Post Comment

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I caught up with the England game again early on Thursday morning, at which point I became aware that the match was being played to inaugurate Sweden's new national stadium. Very nice it looked, too. It took only 90 minutes for one man to single-handedly write the stadium into the history books.

If there is one negative to come out of Wednesday night's match for the Swedes, it is surely the fact that even if the stadium remains in use for another 200 years, it will probably never witness a better goal than Zlatan Ibrahimovic's overhead kick.

People always ask me what is the best stadium I have ever played at? There's no right answer, of course, because it depends in what context we're talking. If it's purely about noise levels and atmosphere, then Newcastle and Stoke take some beating, although on any given day every set of fans are capable of making the hairs on your neck stand up.

Some players really enjoy playing in evening games at intimate, inner-city stadiums such as White Hart Lane, Fratton Park and, once upon a time, Highbury. Somehow at night, when the floodlights are on and there's a good 'zip' to the pitch, you instinctively know as a player that the game will be an enjoyable experience - win, lose or draw.

But if you ask a team of players the same question, then you'd probably get 11 different answers based on individual performances. Some players, for unknown reasons, thrive at different grounds. Some strikers always score at the Emirates Stadium while some goalkeepers always keep cleansheets at Upton Park.

I won't sit on the fence, though, because I have always had a favourite. There is one stadium in particular where the combination of heritage, pride and nostalgia, for me, simply cannot be replicated. It isn't the prettiest ground, the biggest or the newest and, in truth, those are three of the reasons why I love playing there.

As you walk up the tunnel underneath that famous sign and line up at 3pm on a Saturday - for me, it has to be 3pm on a Saturday - there is something about that moment which reminds you of exactly where you are and what's at stake. At almost every other stadium, this becomes a routine rather than a moment to savour.

When those huge flags begin to wave at one end of the ground, littered as they are with countless triumphs, many players start to feel the early stages of being overawed. And suddenly the music starts, the scarves go up and that famous song cascades down the stands. That was the moment when I realised that no other stadium could match this one. This is Anfield.

Find out why on Saturday. Only on www.thesecretfootballer.com.

You can follow The Secret Footballer on Twitter here, or buy his book here, which we reviewed here

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