Charlotte Characters: Charlie and Bayern Ryan

One of the primary motivations for embarking on this tour was to meet interesting people and share their stories. In Charlotte, I had the pleasure of spending time with Independence supporter Charlie Houston, and “Bayern Ryan.”

Charlie invited me to come have some delicious wings and talk soccer with he and his father. While the wings were good, the conversation was even better. We spoke about a lot of interesting things including the growth of the game and challenges it faces that you can read in Charlie’s article about the tour for Soccer ‘n’ Sweet Tea.

Read: One Man’s “Soccer Tour” Comes to the Carolinas

After meeting Charlie I raced (at the legal speed limit) to Courtyard Hooligans in downtown Charlotte to meet with one of the most well-known FC Bayern Munich fans in the country, one-eyed Ryan Gibson, a.k.a. “Bayern Ryan.”

For those that are unfamiliar with the man or his story, Ryan lost his right eye to a rare form of cancer about a year ago. In an effort to raise awareness about the cancer and show his unwavering support for his favorite football club, Ryan had the club’s logo placed into his eye socket, rather than go the traditional route with what could have been a very real-looking fake.

Naturally, the eye has garnered Ryan worldwide attention, but like everything, has come with a price. I conducted a lengthy interview with Ryan about the challenges he faced before and after the cancer. Stay tuned for the video — I haven’t begun editing yet but will likely try to get the story out before Bayern’s UEFA Champions League tilt with Real Madrid.