THOUSANDS of Newcastle fans have descended on Milan ahead of the club’s Champions League Clash on Tuesday.
But there is more concern surrounding the drama that could unfold off the pitch as supporters of the Magpies face off with AC Milan’s diehard admirers.
The uber-organised Ultras Warriors vow to “cheer, incite, scream and fight” for their club, apparently without fear of the consequences.
Despite their burning passion for football being at the forefront of their mission, flying fists, flares and anarchy often take centre stage.
A Newcastle fan has already been ambushed and stabbed by at least seven masked thugs ahead of the game in the Italian city.
The horror incident involving Brit dad Eddie McKay, 58, has incited fears that more blood could be shed in football-related incidents.
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A new generation of fans, formed out of the infamous Fossa dei Leoni (Lion’s Den) association, are now carrying the torch for their beloved club.
But their penchant for violence, political disruption and fierce rivalries remains at the heart of the group.
The Fossa dei Leoni, originally formed in 1968, is credited with pioneering the modern ultra movement in Italy.
The group offered unwavering support to their club and belted out lyrics ridden with loyalty from Ramp 18 in the San Siro Stadium.
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They later dominated the Curva Sud, becoming the heartbeat of the Diavolo support while joining up with members of the Brigate Rossonere and the Commandos Tigre.
But the infusion of supporters was notoriously strained due to differing political ideologies, sparking a series of explosive rifts.
Fossa eventually disbanded in 2005 following a bizarre row over a stolen banner during a match between Milan and Juventus.
The firm supposedly managed to steal a flag from an ultra group supporting their rivals, known as Viking, and unfurled it triumphantly in the Curva Sud.
But it later emerged that rather than swiping the flag, it had been acquired “without honour” – going against Fossa’s unwritten rules.
Juventus fans later sought revenge and nabbed one of the group’s banners, before tauntingly posting it on the Viking’s fanzine.
Both banners were eventually returned to their rightful owners, but rumours that police were involved in the truce began to circulate.
This would be regarded as another deadly sin – and the dissolution of Fossa did little to quell the speculation, or put an end to the infighting.
A bloody battle ensued, reportedly exacerbated by a merchandising and tickets row, resulting in one Milan fan being shot in the legs.
Brigate Rossonere and Commandos Tigre lived on, while former Fossa members rebranded as the Ultras Warriors.
Announcing their formation, the group said they were “born from the synergy of some militants of the former Fossa dei Leoni”.
A press release read: “The new Warriors who, in serenity and agreement with the rest of the groups of the curve; we will fill the void left both in the south and in our hearts.
“Like the majority of Italian fans, we are not characterized by any political ideology, neither red nor black, but only and exclusively red and black.
“We are an independent group and our only purpose is to cheer, incite, scream, fight… for one cause only… our Magical Milan.”
The apolitical group is reportedly headed by Luca Lucci, who is currently serving a seven-year stretch for drug trafficking charges.
The background of their alleged leader has raised fears the Ultras Warriors are now more of a mafia than a gang of football fans.
Italian media claim Lucci was heard discussing the killing of the legendary head of the Inter Milan Ultras, Vittorio Boiocchi.
The 69-year-old, who spent 26 years behind bars, was shot dead outside of his house on the outskirts of Milan in October last year.
According to Calcio Mercato, Lucci warned a crime boss: “Boiocchi? You have to kill him, Vittorio is crazy, he’ll kill you. You have to throw him down.”
With rigorous weekly meetings, the cult-like supporters of AC Milan remain a structured and scary presence.
Members of the Ultras Warriors are expected to line the stands of San Siro as they watch their club take on Newcastle.
The Toon’s return to the Champions League after 20 years is predicted to be explosive both on and off the pitch.
In crazy scenes, Brits have already been seen sliding topless in the slippery streets of Milan with dozens watching on.
Magpies fans had to scramble to bag one of the 4,300 seats dedicated to the visiting team and they’ve long been sold out.
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But other loyal supporters have still rushed to the city without a ticket.
The last time the team played away from home in this competition was also in Milan back in 2003, where 12,000 visiting fans watched 2-2 draw with Inter.
Source: Soccer - thesun.co.uk