Packers Have Worldwide Appeal

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With the Packers' inaugural Fan Fest rapidly approaching, die-hard fans from across the country will soon be descending upon Green Bay for a chance to be a part of the gathering.

One fan has come further than the rest though, and two days before Fan Fest gets underway Friday evening, Armando Diludovico completed his travels from Rome, Italy to Lambeau Field.

Diludovico was greeted in the Lambeau Field Atrium by Packers President and CEO Bob Harlan, who welcomed the Italian Packer Backer to Green Bay and chatted with him for a few minutes.

Diludovico was happy to finally be in Wisconsin for his first trip to the stadium that his favorite team calls home. He said the chance to be able to meet some of the biggest stars in Packers history was more than enough reason to make the long journey, although he was surprised that he was able to get through on the phone when the tickets went on sale last month.

"Honestly, I thought it would be almost impossible to get a ticket," he said.

Diludovico, who is the general manager of a hotel in Rome, said that he's been a fan of American football ever since a chance encounter with a 1984 USFL exhibition game in London.

"I was studying in England in a summer program," he remembered. "On the weekends, they would take us to see some things around London. There was this game at Wembley Stadium and I didn't realize that it was American football - I thought it was going to be a soccer game. Wembley is such a historic stadium, so I was going just to see the stadium, but I fell in love with the game."

In telling Harlan the story of what has drawn him to be a devoted supporter of the Packers in particular, Diludovico said there were three reasons he chose to support the Green and Gold from more than 4,700 miles and seven time zones away.

"The first reason why I chose the Packers was I was born in 1966, the same year of the first Super Bowl team," he said. "The second reason is that I love the idea that the team is owned by the fans."

Diludovico's third draw to the Packers is one that is shared by many of the team's fans who perhaps weren't born to bleed green - Brett Favre.

"Brett is the third reason why I chose the Packers as my favorite team," he said. "I watched him play on television and I said, 'This is the kind of team that I like and this is the kind of leadership that I like.' And I've been a Packers fan ever since."

One interesting tale from his fandom stems from the Pack's most recent Super Bowl victory.

"In 1995, I moved to Boston for a couple of years - actually I was there when the Packers played the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and I was the only one with the "wrong" hat in town," he recalled. "I was stopped by the police twice that week and they said, 'I wouldn't wear that hat.'"

Diludovico has gone to great lengths to be able to follow the Green and Gold and the rest of the NFL from his homeland, investing in a satellite dish for the sole purpose of watching Packers football.

"There are 300 channels and the only reason I have it is because that's how I can watch the games," he said.

"There is a partnership between an American company and an Arabic satellite channel called Orbit that carries the games for U.S. troops overseas. That's how I get to see the games. They broadcast two games on Sunday and the Monday night games. Considering that they broadcast live, that means they are on at about 3:00 a.m. in Italy."

Even after going to these great lengths, he still isn't able to see the Packers every week.

"Last year, I had the chance to watch three games featuring the Packers," he said. "I got to see Brett's 200th consecutive start against St. Louis, which was great."

Diludovico plans on soaking up as much of the Packers experience as he can this weekend in Green Bay before heading to Canton, Ohio to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame next week on his way home to Europe, but he hopes this won't be his only trip to Lambeau Field.

"I'd love to come back for a game," he said.

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