QPR are set to celebrate their 100th anniversary of playing at Loftus Road as they prepare to host Ipswich Town on Saturday.
As part of a special series, we've caught up with a number of former-Hoops to find out what Loftus Road means to them.
Finally, we have former Hoops defender Dan Shittu.
What do you remember about your Loftus Road debut?
I don’t remember it too well, but what I remember was that I felt a lot of love and care from the fans. Even though I’d played for Blackpool in the lower leagues before it was the first time I was playing in that division. I remember after the game I went home to my partner and I told her that the fans had made me enjoying playing football, and that meant a lot. I was looking forward to playing football again and again and again.
Playing for a London club and the way the fans were with me, it just felt different, and I think that’s one of the things I remember most about QPR. Everyone says it’s a family club, but I felt a certain kind of love that made me think “I just want to be here”, and I played at a lot of other clubs after that and I won’t say that I got that after. QPR was the first place which felt like I was at home.
What was the reason for that?
The fans were nice with me and the players were nice with me. Obviously when I first went to QPR it was on loan so I wasn’t really there fully, but I felt like I was part of the team, and the fans took to me like they would with a player who’d been signed there permanently. It’s hard to explain that feeling, but it was just something about Loftus Road, they always made us feel at home, and that’s why I say that QPR is my second home because it’s something I'll never forget.
What is your favourite Loftus Road memory?
No doubt, it’s playing against Oldham. I remember that game, 2-1 in the semi-final when Furlong scored in the last couple of minutes of the second leg.
In the older team there was quite a few of my mates there, but the work we’d done all through the season to get to the semi-final, and the way the game went. It was an evening game and when we scored, I don’t know how to explain the noise at Loftus Road, it was unlike anything else. It was an amazing, amazing evening.
When I talk about the most memorable moments of my career; yes I talk about playing in the World Cup, yes I’ve played against top players, yes I was able to play for a long time, but I always talk about the love and support, and what Loftus Road gave me and allowed me to do, it was some of the best years I had in football. It wasn’t just down to who I was playing with; it was the supporters, it was the club, it was the people behind the scenes, it was everything together as a family, and that’s hard to get in football.
You can go to places and have highs, but we had quite a few lows and we had to stick together to fight through it and get the highs again, and it means so much.
There was also when we got promoted to the Premiership. I ended up coming on up front in that game and to see the club in the Premiership, it was where I always thought the club should be, and to have played a part in that means a lot.
Loftus Road also means a lot to you from an international point of view as well, doesn't it?
It was also at Loftus Road where Nigeria first saw me play as well! If QPR hadn’t been playing there and I hadn’t been at the club, Nigeria wouldn’t have seen me and I wouldn’t have had my international career, so that makes Loftus Road extra special.
My first international game against Paraguay was at Loftus Road, and my whole family was there. My mum was there to see me play for my country at Loftus Road so at both a club and an international level, Loftus Road means a lot to me.
How big an occasion will Saturday be against Ipswich?
It’ll be massive. The fans love Loftus Road, all of my playing days at QPR were at Loftus Road and to all the supporters, players and managers who are connected to the club, it’ll mean a lot. I still speak to a lot of people at QPR and everyone speaks so highly of Loftus Road.
It’s such an honour to be called up for such an event. To be able to be there alongside the club’s legends, it means so much and I’m so happy that I get to be a part of it.