When three Malayali youngsters made their way to Mumbai last weekend, they were at best hopeful; of meeting their idol and legendary Manchester United player Wayne Rooney.
Being hardcore Manchester United fans, getting to meet Rooney, the all time top scorer for the club, was a chance they could hardly ignore no matter how long a shot it appeared.
Rooney in Mumbai
“We knew that Rooney was in Mumbai as part of the television coverage of FIFA World Cup. We tried to contact his team over email and Instagram but in vain,” said Akash Kesavan, chairman of Manchester United Supporters Club Kerala. He was accompanied by two fellow fans Vimal Mohan and Sanil Sani.
Then they came to know that a group of fans from Manchester United Supporters Club Mumbai, the first official fan club of Manchester United in India, was about to meet Rooney. Sanil who had a friend in that group pulled some strings and eventually they were allowed to tag along.
“That was on Tuesday but thereafter there were no updates. We nevertheless decided to go. I took the train from Bengaluru and the other two flew in from Kerala on Saturday morning,” said Mr. Kesavan.
Last minute meeting
Since they were initially told that the meeting would be on Saturday as Rooney was set to leave the next day, they waited in the hotel all day. Finally, message came through that Rooney had agreed to meet the fans in the hotel lobby in Mumbai on Sunday evening.
The moment they met their bearded idol will remain etched in their memory forever. “Being a Manchester United fan by default means that you are in eternal love with Rooney. No other player wearing that badge has given us so much joy,” said Vimal about the goosebump-evoking moment.
The global attention of the love for football in Kerala during this World Cup season also seems to have helped their cause. For, Rooney already seems to have heard about Kerala and its football-mad people. “That we had come all the way from Kerala just to meet him also seemed to have worked in our favour. We were able to click photographs with him while he also gave a short video addressing fans in Kerala,” said Sanil who got a few posters of Rooney he had designed autographed by the man himself.