From Mutu to Morata, how Trizia Fiorellino enriched our Chelsea chats

Four hundred friends packed into St Agatha's Church, Kingston in London today for the funeral service of Trizia Fiorellino, who wrote on all matters Chelsea for this newspaper. Former players and club officials were in attendance. The final hymn of the service was Lord of the Dance, on which the supporters' anthem Carefree is based, writes Irish Examiner Editor Allan Prosser

Irish Examiner columnist Trizia Fiorellino
Irish Examiner columnist Trizia Fiorellino

I knew Trisha — because that’s what I would call her, Trisha or Trish — for some 25 years and we talked about a lot more than football, although that was the primary source and fuel of our relationship.

Back in 2012, around the time we won the Champions League, because it was always important to contextualise such things in terms of Chelsea achievements with her, I was urging her to read a book set in Naples about two young girls.

It was called My Brilliant Friend. And I recalled that title last week, and the thought came to me that this is what she was to us; she was Our Brilliant Friend.

Then I remembered that every time I had asked her whether she had read this novel she displayed a certain diffidence, saying that she had the book but she hadn’t been able to get into it yet. Perhaps while she was on holiday, maybe.

And on almost every occasion, she would turn the subject to the TV series Gomorrah, also set in Naples, and in particular to the character of Donna Imma, the wife of jailed kingpin Don Pietro, who for a while looked after the full scope of family business, pretty successfully.

And of course, Trizia was always likely to identify with the powerful woman in charge when it came to role models.

The Chelsea family is mourning for Trizia Fiorellino — friend, fan, columnist with the ‘Irish Examiner’, and dear friend of its editor.
The Chelsea family is mourning for Trizia Fiorellino — friend, fan, columnist with the ‘Irish Examiner’, and dear friend of its editor.

During Saturday, before and after the Watford game, I was looking through the many emails I had from her, and the hundreds of columns she wrote, at my request, for the Irish Examiner, and the fun she had particularly in teasing North Londoners and those who congregate every other Saturday around Liverpool 4.

Trish always liked to comment on Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal and in one particular account — ok, it was about the 6-0 — she said that Chelsea’s performance was akin to watching a cat play with a half-dead mouse.

I also recall leaving the old Highbury with her in December 2005 after a 2-0 victory and her being very keen to find out where Nick Hornby lived.

Another of her columns that I read last weekend spoke about her serious PMT — pre-match tension — before a victory at Anfield. It was headlined, by her, ‘There May be Double ahead’.

I visited many locations with Trish: Munich beer cellars, Rome, Moscow, Milan, Valencia, Turin, Paris, Monaco, Barcelona, Madrid, Prague, Stuttgart, Athens. We drove through the Carpathian Mountains together towards Transylvania listening to the Specials sing ‘Ghost Town’.

And we went to really romantic places like Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle. And Wembley. We went to Wembley a lot.

We spoke about all manner of things: our shared love for Ashley Cole; the merits of Morata and Mutu — a short conversation, that; Fernando Torres and Rafa Benitez, rather more intense; the way football fans are treated.

The last time I saw her, we spoke about my retirement, and moving back to England, and about going to more matches together — her Paul, me, and others in the Trish extended family which I always think of as the tribe.

And in a way, we still will be going to those games together because I cannot now watch a football match without running the performance against her narrative.

When Tammy Abraham scored after five minutes at Vicarage Road, I immediately thought — Trish wouldn’t like that. That goal is much too early.

At her 40th birthday, Trish appeared as Glinda, the good witch. And I like to think that somewhere over the rainbow she will be waiting for the rest of us.

There will be a table which will say ‘Reserved for Trizia’. There will be a Bacardi and Diet Coke and several lagers on it, some artisan beers, and a large glass of red wine and we will gradually join her one by one to talk about everything we have known.

As always the conversation will be good, the laughter will flow, and we will be enriched by that shared experience.

Enriched. Just as we all were by her life.

- The author is editor of the Irish Examiner.

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