Any football supporter who’s travelled abroad to watch their team play in Europe will know how easy it is to get lost on your walk to and from the stadium in a foreign land.
However, this guy took things to a whole new level after he got lost on his way back from the toilets at the San Siro in Milan and ended up sleeping rough in the Italian city for more than ten years.
Swiss pensioner Rolf Bantle, 71, had travelled to watch FC Basel play Inter Milan in the Champions League qualifying game in 2004. But, after visiting the loos, he became disoriented and couldn’t find his friends, partly because he was a heavy drinker with a history of alcoholism, and partly because the San Siro is absolutely bloody massive and a nightmare to navigate.
Bantle was a resident of a group home in Läufelfingen near Basel at the time, and was on a day trip to Italy to watch the game on August 24, 2004. He was reported missing after losing his way at the end of the match which his team FC Basel lost 4-1.
After losing the group he was with, he just decided to stay in Milan for over a decade because he “had no commitments” and “enjoyed the freedom” of living rough, according to Switzerland’s Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper.
I was suddenly in a different sector. I had about €20 in my pocket and no phone so I wandered into Milan. People gave me food and cigarettes, and one student offered me a sleeping bag.
Bantle, who explained that he took weekly showers in the local washroom and spent a lot of time in the local library, was only returned home after he fell and broke his femur. Hospital workers spotted he had no health insurance and contacted the Swiss consulate to explain the situation.
Following treatment, Bantle is now comfortably living in a Basel retirement home once more, and he’s pretty happy about his situation.
In the afternoon I go to the Denner (supermarket) and buy two cans of beer, which is allowed. I like it here. Ten years is enough and here I feel very good now.
Talk about a crazy adventure!