Fault! The file name is not specified. Joe Bryant with his mascot Gerta Berlin Hertinho presented his model of the Lego Olympic Stadium to the fans of the club. Joe Bryant

At German Bundesliga football matches that take place behind closed doors, a talented 12-year-old boy still brings us the excitement of the stadium atmosphere – albeit in miniature.

Joe Bryant exerts his passion for German football, which was sparked by a chance encounter on a family holiday, by building large, incredibly detailed models of Lego arenas. An Ipswich Town fan started building imaginary stadiums at the age of 5 and held on to them to perfect and improve his creations brick by brick. A small Bryant could have known that one day his lines would cause a sensation in the social media and attract the attention of the big clubs.

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I loved football, so I started building my own stands with the Lego people and then I started designing my own stadiums, Bryant told ESPN from his home in Crowley, South England.

Bryant joined social media in 2017 as Away Day Joe to give children an idea of how they travel around the country to see their team. But it was his miniature version of his favorite soccer fields, made of the famous plastic bricks, that really impressed the fans online. Bryant currently has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter and nearly 5,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel.

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Bryant is currently a veteran of building 14 arenas, and the very first Bundesliga stadium he tried to build was the Borussia Mönchengladbach Stadium. This happened after a chance meeting with a group of German football fans during a family holiday in Turkey a few years ago. Bryant joined them, he watched the games on TV, and there it was, and then he fell in love with all that Bundesliga stuff.

A special family outing to Borussia-Park followed when Bryant was only 9 years old. Then he decided to fulfill his mission – to build all major German stadiums in Lego, starting with the stadium in Gladbach.

Since then Bryant has supplied models for Cologne, Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen, Nuremberg, Mainz, Augsburg, Werder Bremen, Bochum, Gertha Berlin, Freiburg, Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund and for Anderlecht (Belgium).

In recent years, he has traveled to Germany eight times at the invitation of major Bundesliga clubs to demonstrate his incredible skills.

Fault! The file name is not specified. RheinEnergie Cologne. Joe Bryant

Cologne kindly sent me tickets after I had built their stadium, but the first club to invite me to Germany with the Lego stadium was Schalke in 2018, Bryant said. It was a great trip. Snow has always fallen and I was afraid that the Lego stadium would collapse, but fortunately it was built in one piece.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Weltins Arena Schalke. Joe Bryan

Bryant admits that his trip to the Weltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen to present his demo to the club was a bit nervous, although the incredible hospitality of the club quickly calmed his nerves: Schalke was great. They gave me a tour of the stadium and let me go out on the pitch before the game and showed the fans my Lego model.

Fault! The file name is not specified. The Weser stadium in Werder Bremen. Joe Bryant

Bryant also visited Werder Bremen, where he was allowed on the pitch during the break and announced to everyone that his model of the Weser Stadium will be on permanent display in the real world: I couldn’t believe the reaction of their fans, they loved it. I’ve been very lucky, and all the clubs have been incredibly generous and friendly to me.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Max Morlock Stadium in Nuremberg. Joe Bryant

Since then his love for the Bundesliga has blossomed: VIP trips to cities such as Nuremberg, Berlin, Bremen and Bochum consolidated his respect for all Germans: Germany is such an incredible place for football. The fans and the clubs are great, and they have an incredible sausage.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Rurstadion Bochum. Joe Bryant

Bryant insists he doesn’t have a favourite, although he remains weak on his last drawing: The famous Signal-Idun-Park in Dortmund. He is proud to have accepted the famous Yellow and Black Earth, his most accurate and realistic creation to date.

Striking is the difference between the first, relatively simple design (Gladbach) and the attention to detail, which was implemented in Dortmund with geometric corner posts, cardboard glass boxes and the round BVB logo on the roof. Completed structures turn out to be Lego’s worst nightmare: Besides Dortmund I also liked the construction of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin (Gertha-Berlin-Haus), because it is curved and has a conveyor belt. It’s very difficult to build in Lego, because Lego doesn’t want to fold!

Fault! The file name is not specified. Dortmund Park Signal Idun Borussia. Joe Bryant

Although each stadium is a challenge, Berlin proved more than most with 5,669 bricks. Bremen and Stuttgart were also difficult because of their curved roofs, sloping floodlights and other architectural features. The construction of Bryant’s Lego Stadium used to take about three weeks, but now, due to its complexity, it can take up to eight weeks. Also the purchase of raw materials – 3,000 for the first basic models up to almost 6,000 for the construction of the Dortmunder Land – may take some time.

Surprisingly, Bryant doesn’t build his arenas according to plans or schedules, but collects all his drawings using only images he finds on the internet. His father, Phil, explained: He just looks at the pictures and sees what looks good on him. If he visited the stadium beforehand, it makes it easier for him. Otherwise he asks the club and the fans for new pictures. You’re very good and you always help him.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Mainz Opel Arena. Joe Bryant

Unfortunately, like most Lego creations, Bryant’s stadiums are not built to last forever. Most of his early creations had to be photographed for posterity before they were broken into pieces so that the material could be reused. After a while I had to demolish the stadiums because Lego bricks were expensive and I needed them for the next construction site. It was very heartbreaking because it takes forever to make them.

While Bryant’s portfolio continues to grow, the Bryant household has experienced storage problems in recent years, as well as other unfortunate pitfalls associated with large Lego structures lying around.

If the club doesn’t want to keep the stadium, I’ll keep it as long as possible, but at some point I’ll need the bricks and my room will be very crowded, Bryant said. I need to see where I’m going. My father spilled a piece of Cologne when he tried to repair a brick and my mother threw a vacuum cleaner in Augsburg. Luckily, I fixed them both.

Fault! The file name is not specified. The sampling site of Anderlecht Bryant is now in the lottery park. Joe Bryant

Since his movements have become popular with both professional teams and fans, Bryant has been able to see them with the respect they deserve for their permanent display.

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Lately a lot of clubs have wanted to keep my Lego stadiums for their museums, VIP areas or fan shops, which is very nice of them, he says. It’s perfect for me because it means they won’t sleep forever and everyone will see it.

Anderlecht first asked to keep the Bryant stadium for himself before Mainz moved there. The sponsors of the real Bremen stadium, Wohninvest, have ensured that the Mini Weser Stadium will remain in the German city, while the models from Bochum and Gertha will also live permanently in the stadiums they represent. Bryant had to travel to Freiburg at Easter to present his club in the Black Forest stadium, but the trip had to be postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic: I’m still waiting for Covid. It’s so frustrating now because I really miss Germany.

Hello @VfL_Wolfsburg and VfL Wolfsburg-FanI build your stadium in Lego, but I need your helpCan you tell me if there are VIP boxes where these arrows are? Or are they barrier circuits? I think there are VIP boxes on the main stand, but I’m not sure about the other stands? Thank you! Thank you! pic.twitter.com/4cOCGpCCaD

– Joe Bryant (@AwayDayJoe_) 20. October 2020.

Fortunately, our intrepid Legosmith does not want to rest on his laurels and has already started his latest brick venture, the model for the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, which he ordered at the end of October. After consultation with Wolfsburg fans on specific matters, the foundation stone has already been laid and the construction of the lower level of the eastern grandstand – the Castrol Tribune – has begun.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Wolfsburg Volkswagen Arena – Bryant’s next project. Joe Bryant

Bryant will also continue to work towards his common goal of building all Bundesliga stadiums before moving on to other club and national stadiums.

I asked people on social networks what they wanted from me, and now I have a list of 100 clubs, he said. I have teams in the German third and fourth divisions as well as English, French, Italian and Spanish clubs. Many people also ask me if I want to build stadiums on the American continent, such as the Aztec stadiums and the Maracana. I even had the request to build a national stadium in Iran. A lot of people seem to like my Lego stadiums, so I’m going to do my best to build them all for them.

And yes, before you ask, Bryant plans to build a faithful copy of the modest house in his beloved city of Ipswich.

Of course I have to build the Portman Road. In fact, I already promised to do that!

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