He had tears in his eyes. Me too. For his 18th birthday, I offered Sonny a trip to Manchester, England, to see our favorite football team play “head to head,” the one he didn’t have the choice to love at the time of his birth.
Posted at 11:00 am
Gossip has it that Fiston’s first name is inspired by the club his father adored, Manchester United, since the coronation of King Eric Cantona in the mid-1990s. Not all legends are to be believed.
In truth I tell you that if Sonny had become a fan of Manchester City, the club on the “blue” side of the city, he would have disowned him, and three times instead of once. At home we are red. He was before he was born, when he covered European soccer for Pressin 1999, the year of the famous League-Cup-Champions League hat-trick for the Red Devils.
This is how we met in April at Old Trafford, the legendary Manchester stadium, known as the “Theatre of Dreams”. We had planned this trip for a long time, postponed three times due to the pandemic. The match against West Ham turned into a match against Wolves and then against Norwich.
We also went to see a game of Salford City FC, a fourth-tier club owned by ex-United players (including David Beckham), at a small, family-run stadium on the outskirts of Manchester.
Luckily, United met Liverpool two days later at Anfield, just 50km from Manchester. The two best teams in the history of English football: 20 championships at United, 19 at Liverpool. The greatest of rivalries. The equivalent of a Canadian-Nordic match raised to the 10th.
We couldn’t miss that. I got myself a Father’s Day present in advance. We hid our United shirts under our jackets and shared a beer.
In the seventh minute of the game, the 53,000 spectators sang You will never Walk alone, the cult song of Liverpool fans, to pay tribute, in his absence, to United’s star striker Cristiano Ronaldo, whose son was stillborn the day before. I had chills.
A German told me that he came to Liverpool expressly with his son and daughter to see Ronaldo. I didn’t dare tell him that we had had the pleasure of seeing him play in Manchester four days earlier. I am aware of my privileges…
We had also made this pilgrimage to the North West of England especially to see one of the greatest players in history in the flesh. Last September, CR7 (as he is nicknamed) made his grand return to the club that unveiled him on the international scene, after ten years of exile in Spain and Italy.
I remember Son jumping for joy in front of the television as if it were yesterday, when Ronaldo scored in the Champions League final, won by Manchester United in 2008. He was just 4 years old. We were on vacation in the United States.
The following year, after winning the Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world, Ronaldo left for Real Madrid. I never thought I’d get the chance to see him in the red United shirt again. He then returned to cement his legend in the Mancunian club, at 36 years old.
So we arrived at Old Trafford early, time to visit the club museum and for Sonny to buy a shirt with his pocket money. ancient from the Canton era.
He knows his football like the back of his hand. He is aware of the latest rumors of player transfers, of the young nugget growing up in the ranks of such a French club. I admit it: I created a monster.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored an early goal, due to a silly defensive error. Then there was a corner in the opposite area, and Fiston had the reflex to film, just in case… Ronaldo, of course, scored with a header by jumping higher than the others. Norwich came from behind in the second half, so that in the 75thme minute it was 2-2 when Ronaldo scored with a typical, unstoppable and powerful free kick.
we scream. We jump for joy. The smile split to the ears and the tears in the eyes, overwhelmed with emotion. United won 3-2. Ronaldo became the first player in history to score 50 hat-tricks for the club, a month after becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. We couldn’t have imagined a better scenario.
“We’ll do this again in 10 years, Dad,” Sonny said. And next time, I’ll be the one to pay! »