After a decade on the streets of Milan, traveling Basel fan comes home

Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

Now for a story so unbelievable, we’ve been waiting to see if Quirker is England’s version of The Onion.

According to multiple reports, though, the story is on the level. Incredibly, FC Basel fan Rolf Bantle went to a match in Italy, missed the fan bus back to Switzerland, and ended up staying in Milan for 11 years.

Crazy, right?

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Bantle, now 71, apparently headed to the San Siro with a fan group to watch Basel tangle with Inter Milan back in 2004. After going to the bathroom and becoming separated from his group, Bantle was left without a ride home and the money to secure a trip back to Switzerland.

With less than $40 to his name, a lack of identification and no cell phone either, Bantle pretty much lived on the streets of the Baggio section of Milan with help from the locals. A missing persons report filed in Switzerland did nothing to find him in Italy.


He ended up living on the streets and doing odd jobs to get by.

He told Swiss Sunday paper Schweiz am Sonntag that an Italian student had given him a sleeping bag and other kindly residents of Milan’s Baggio district had kept him going with gifts of money, food and cigarettes – even washing his clothes for him on occasion.

If you believe the story, Bantle only found his way back to Switzerland after breaking a bone and heading to the hospital for details.

Even typing the story, and seeing the reports around the world, it’s almost unfathomable. No one helped him find someone who spoke his language? No one asked his real name, and thought to follow up? Absurd.

Again, I know people wandering the streets don’t often get the attention they deserve, but I have to issue another conditional… this is all if you believe the story.