TOWER OF STRENGTH
Liam hails resilience of French people as he returns to scene of his Paris terror
A Cambuslang teenager who was caught up in November’s Paris terror attacks has described his return to the city for Euro 2016.
Liam Watson, 16, was at the France-Germany game in the Stade de France on November 13 last year when a suicide bomber tried to get into the stadium before blowing himself up, killing one passer by.
On a night of horror in the French capital, 130 people were killed by ISIS terrorists.
Liam and his dad, Willie, faced a frightening journey back to their hotel, and Liam’s tweets describing the scenes he witnessed drew support from people all over the country.
But rather than putting him off going back to the French capital, brave Liam headed over with Willie to take in Poland’s match with Germany in the very same venue on June 16.
Cathkin High pupil Liam said: “It was a bit strange to begin with, the city was a lot more upbeat and secured than last time.
“As for going to the ground, it made me instantly think of last time so I had a wee bit of worry, but overall I’m glad I was able to get a chance to go back.”
Back in November, football fanatic Liam had described people in tears at the game.
He said the ordeal had been “very, very scary,” and “never to be forgotten.”
On returning to Scotland, the defiant youngster said: “Paris seemed such a resilient city. They’ll not let ISIS get their way.”
But his experience this time was far more enjoyable as he attended two games and mixed with football fans from all over Europe.
Rangers fan Liam has been abroad at least 10 times on football trips.
Cambuslang teenager Liam Watson was gutted Scotland were not at Euro 2016 – but that did not stop him and his dad Willie from jetting out to France to take in the football.
The pair attended two games during a week-long trip to Paris to watch Germany v Poland and Northern Ireland v Germany.
The trip came just a few months after Liam and Willie had been in the Stade de France when it was targeted by terrorists in November last year.
Here’s Liam’s Euro 2016 diary...
It seemed harsh that Scotland had not made the Euros, so myself and my dad decided to make ourselves the nation’s representatives.
The anticipation was different to what I’d ever felt before going to football abroad, there were countless numbers of fans setting off on their way to France making the buzz feel even more real.
We arrived in the city on June 15 which was on high security but still extremely welcoming on the evening France played host to Albania.
We set up base at Clichy’s Tavern to watch the game along with a fully packed pub. The sense of national pride was easy to see and a win for the hosts made sure everyone was in happy spirits.
The next day was even more exciting. Poland v Germany was the talk of the day and we luckily had tickets.
Beforehand we made our base in a local pub to watch England v Wales. On either side of us were two English lads and two Irish lads – comedy material, eh?
We talked with the English lads for hours about football and shared different experiences from throughout our years of traveling.
The day had a strange feel for us, having been involved in last year’s tragic events. Luckily this time was less dramatic and with high security we knew we were safe. The atmosphere was simply immense and both sets of fans did themselves proud, although the game ended in a dull 0-0 draw.
The next day we took as a ‘rest’ day. We sat on our balcony admiring the Paris scenery while having some quiet time.
On the Saturday we visited Sacré-Coeur. It felt like another world. As we made our way up, there were many Austrian fans preparing for their game against Portugal; a friendly bunch who were easily mixing in with the locals.
The views from the top were magnificent, continuous buildings and monuments as far as the skyline went. We were bombarded with street artists looking to show their artistic skills.
On Sunday we became proper tourists and did the bus tour. It was interesting to see another side of Paris and all that it has to offer.
Monday saw us leave our apartment in Blanche and depart for Creil, about an hour from Paris. We arrived to a ghost town waiting for our German friends.
The next day was our penultimate day in Paris and our last game of the Euros.
We set off about 9am and made our way down to Paris to visit the Eiffel Tower which was something I was keen to tick off my bucket list.
There were tourists everywhere, along with thousands of Northern Ireland and Germany fans. Both sides’ songs were constantly on the go which made for a good vibe.
The atmosphere outside the ground was unbelievable, the sheer noise and banter was something to behold.
When we got into the Parc Des Princes we saw a sea of green and white across the stadium.
Both sets of fans had turned out in numbers and it made for a cracking atmosphere, although the game itself was a dull affair.
A massive shout out to the Ulster boys who were by far the best international fans I’ve ever come across.
And so came the end of our trip to Paris and our Euros adventure. Until the next time...
Reflection Liam Watson returned to Paris for first time since stadium ordeal (inset)
Euro trip Liam Watson from Cambuslang
Match Liam’s view at the Northern Ireland v Germany game in the Parc des Princes
View Liam took this picture from the top of Sacré-Coeur