A Feyenoord fan who became internet-famous for raising his middle finger to rival supporters at the tender age of five has recreated the snap 20 years on.
Mikey Wilson attended the 2002 UEFA Cup final between Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund in Rotterdam with his father, Ronald. He was there to see the Dutch side’s historic 3-2 win thanks to two goals from Pierre van Hooijdonk and one from Jon Dahl Tomasson.
But, for others at least, that night on May 8, 2002, is more memorable for a single photo than the result. That’s because of the work a press photographer, who caught a five-year-old Mikey putting his middle finger up at rival fans while sat on his father’s shoulders in the stands.
Mikey himself wasn’t aware of it for a long time, but the photo was an instant hit during the nascent stages of the internet. People found it hilarious and shared it far and wide on message boards and social media platforms, helping to turn Mikey into an unwitting early meme.
Mikey has now given an interview to SPORTbible to explain the origins of the image and an explanation of his actions. He says it all started before the semi-final of the UEFA Cup, when Feyenoord travelled to Italy to face Inter Milan.
“Before the game started, we went to a square and there were a number of cafes with lots of supporters,” Mikey told SPORTbible. “The fans of Milan told me to raise my middle finger and say something in Italian. I remember I got a bag of chips and some small change for it. I was only five years old, so of course I did!”
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Feyenoord managed to get past the mighty Inter following a 1-0 win in Italy and a 2-2 draw in the Netherlands. And the result gave Mikey the opportunity to wheel out his favourite new party trick on an even bigger stage.
He says the reason behind his middle finger was Dortmund supporters’ lack of respect for a silence before kick-off. The travelling German supporters chose to interrupt a minute’s silence dedicated to former Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, prompting Mikey to act – and the photographer to get that now-famous image.
“The Dortmund supporters started singing through the minute silence,” he explained. “And at that moment, I raised my middle finger and also shouted the Italian word they taught me in Milan. I don’t remember much about it, to be honest. The only thing that stayed with me is that I didn’t want make-up on my face but it happened anyway.”
Mikey eventually became aware of his fame and now indulges fans with selfies when he’s recognised. Meanwhile, it was his dad who prompted the remake of the photo recently.
“In the bar where I always go, everyone knows me and people still think it’s really cool,” he said. “Every now and then I take a picture with someone who likes it, but that’s mainly in the bar. My dad thinks it’s a great photo. And as you saw on Facebook recently, he wanted to remake it and we did that after a few beers.”