After recently releasing some shirts inspired by some of the biggest clubs and stadiums in European soccer, we wanted to explore fans of these clubs and hear some of their supporter stories. We’ll start with Bryan Byrne. Bryan is a former pro who now runs SoccerCleats101 and is a long time fan of Manchester United.
When did you start supporting United?
My Dad grew up supporting United so it was pretty much set in stone that I would be become a fan. From an early age he had me wearing United jerseys and with my namesakes of Bryan Robson and Brian McClair in the squad, I had an immediate connection. I think my earliest memory of the team was when they won the FA Cup final versus Crystal Palace in 1990. It was such a big deal at the time and I remember my Dad jumping around the house in celebration hailing Sir Alex as a genius.
Have you ever been to a game at Old Trafford?
Growing up in Ireland, we regularly made the short trip across to Manchester for games. I have a lot of family and friends who live over there, so it was easy to find a place to stay. One of my cousins has been a season ticket holder for the past 20 years, his seats are right by the tunnel at the Stretford End. The stadium itself is incredible, when you walk around outside you really get a sense of the pride and history that lies in the club. Inside, the atmosphere can be the best in the World, especially when you are sitting in between all the regular fans who like to chant for 90 minutes. When I was in college at UCSB, we took a preseason trip to England and Manchester was one of the destinations. Doing the Old Trafford tour with a bunch of fellow players, some of which are “anything but United fans” made it extremely interesting to say the least!
What’s your favorite United game or memory?
It has to be the famous game vs Liverpool when the King, Eric Cantona, returned after his suspension. The game seemed to take an eternity to come around and the build-up in the media was extraordinary for its time. When it finally kicked off, we managed to score after only a minute, which was nuts and I recall being in a Pub in Ireland getting punched and trampled on by 50 or 60 screaming United fans. Robbie Fowler was in his prime at the time and his two goals only increased my huge dislike for him. But then Cantona came up with that famous penalty and celebration with the stanchion behind the goal. We didn’t win on the day and it was an early game in the season, but the whole spectacle was a true representation of why fans are so passionate about the game.
Favorite United player of all time?
Even though I never got to see him play in person, George Best has always been my favorite player. From the extensive footage I have seen of him play, he was an extraordinary talent and had the ability to really mesmerize defenders. Growing up, my Dad would always reiterate the fact that when he had free time, Best would be out simply kicking a ball against a wall on his own. It was his way of getting me away from the TV, and it worked!
Who would you like to see United buy this summer?
Without a doubt, Thiago Alcantara. The guy is an absolute talent and he fills a gap we as fans have been yearning for the past few seasons. It wouldn’t be quite as exciting as the Van Persie signing of last season, but it would definitely be a special buy and I think every United fan wants to see it happen as soon as possible.