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Football! Bloody Hell!

India is a cricket worshiping country, like almost every other kid I grew up watching cricket as well. Early 2000’s was a great period for cricket fans, every nation had at least 3 to 4 players who you could idolize, and try to follow. It was the same for me as well, I wanted to become a lot like Rahul Dravid, for me, the man was definition of the word perseverance. I enjoyed test cricket due to him, I enjoyed every single moment of the cricket match in which he played his heart out.

But, in the year 2003, my life took a turn, few classmates were discussing about a sport I had no clue about but was always curious to know more, Football. Internet was not as accessible to 11 years olds at that time so it was next to impossible for me to build knowledge to have a conversation with my friends about it. I loved playing cricket but I preferred playing football right from the start, the thrill of scoring a goal was unparalleled (especially if you score against your classmates!). So, I decided to follow newspapers everyday just to know more about football and what exactly was the Barclays Premier league (English Premier league was known as Barclays Premier league in the early 2000’s). News about football in India was always regarding two teams, Arsenal FC and Manchester United FC. [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif] [if !supportLineBreakNewLine]On 23rd September 2003, my life changed, I got the chance to watch Arsenal FC play Manchester United FC (little did I know the significance of this game, as it was termed “Battle of Old Trafford”, well..I had no clue!). So here I was ready to pledge my allegiance to the team that wins this game. The game was intense, tackles, yellow cards and even a red for Patrick Vieira who was the captain at that point. The match was freaking amazing to watch, I was sure that football and cricket would the two sports I will watch for the rest of my life. However, watching football matches wasn’t easy for a 11-year-old me, I had school or homework to complete before I could watch any of the matches telecasted and there was just one channel who broadcasted the match for the Indian public. But I did manage to watch a bit of football here and there, juggling my school and studies. Arsenal FC went on to win the league that year, and in my head, I was almost convinced that Arsenal were the team for me, Henry was the player that pushed me to watch Arsenal matches. But my life was about to change, my uncle was coming to India from the UK, and I told him to bring me jersey of the most popular team in England (I was 11 years old, it was big deal for me haha). I waited eagerly to find out which team was the most famous in England, the day had finally arrived (24th June 2014, I distinctly remember the date because I wanted to show off my football knowledge to my friends and brag about my new jersey from UK, most kids!).

I opened the pack like a kid opening a bag of chocolates…..*drum rolls*………..*Bang*… there it was a “Manchester United FC jersey”, and a brand new No.10 shirt with the name Ruud Van Nisterlrooy written on it (I couldn’t even pronounce the name but I knew who he was). And, my decision was made, stamped and sealed, Manchester United FC would be my favourite team for life. Later on, as PL became popular in India, I began watching more matches, getting more insights about Manchester United as a club, its history, the Busby babes, the 1999 Champions league final, Sir Alex Ferguson….everything about the club was admirable, emotional and heart-warming. [endif]

I knew I made the right decision and the bond has been unshakable ever since that day 24th June 2014.Since that day Manchester United has been my source of inspiration, no wonder people call it the “Theatre of Dreams”.

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