For 29 years now I have defied my fathers wishes and supported the best football club in the world, Manchester United.
Being born in Lisbon into a family of three generations of Benfica supporters, it was my first favorite player, David Beckham, to spark my love of Football and pry me away to the north of England. Although I grew to appreciate Scholes the most, at the time Becks had it all. Whether it was scoring from half-field, curling in devastating free-kicks, or courting the timeless Victoria (Posh Spice), Beckham was the superstar on and off the pitch that dreams were made of. Once I was in, I was all in. Much like the pull of the Stretford End that sucked the ball into the net in Fergie time on countless occasions, everything about United, its players and its vibe sucked me into this great family.
As a kid growing up, Football for me was summed up by the Nike tag-line created for the Brazilian National Team in 2002, “Joga Bonito” which directly translates to “Play beautifully”. Football should be played like that Brasil team, but more importantly like Fergie’s United: exciting, fearless and creative. The way you play as a kid. The way you fall in love with the game.
It was around this time in the early 2000s that my United roots dug deep and I became fully aware that it would be a love affair that would span my lifetime. Some of the greatest memories of my sporting life were from this era. The 1999 treble, Beckham curling in that free kick for England against Greece in 2001, Rudd’s solo goal from half-field, and finally the signing of my all-time favorite player, Cristiano Ronaldo. Being Portuguese, and a United supporter, it was a match made in heaven for me and the five seasons he spent running down the wing were my favorite of all of them.
Although I remember the 1999 Champions League Final well, the 2008 squad will forever be in my heart. It had everything United stood for and what the supporters wanted to see. Relentlessly punishing center backs in Rio and Vedic; lethally quick and efficient attack in Ronaldo, Rooney, and Tevez; battle tested veterans with Giggs, Scholes and Van der Saar; and finally players who gave it all for the badge in Hargreaves, Fletcher, O’Shea, Wes Brown and the eternal Ji-Sung Park.
That’s my story and I can’t wait to tell you more of my opinions and feelings in the future. I’m unapologetically honest in my judgment of United and I think it’s refreshing to see that, as a fan-base, we are starting to be more like that as a whole. It’s not about where you’ve been, it’s about where you’re going. United will always have history and stature but we need to be honest and true to ourselves if we are going to make it back to where we belong.
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