At the end of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s recent trip to Manchester, England, the team had the rare opportunity to see an English Premier League game live. As fate would have it, that game turned out to be the one in which champions Manchester United defeated Wigan Athletic to lift the league trophy. Long-time Manchester United supporter Peri Marosevic talked to ussoccer.com about his once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I’m a huge Manchester United fan, and the whole experience left me speechless. Being over in England, watching my favorite team, and my favorite player, Cristiano Ronaldo, play and score the penalty kick was amazing. I got to be part of the fan section that cheered and yelled for them at the top of my lungs.
I love watching Man U on television, but hearing the Wigan fans yelling back at you – well, the television doesn’t yell back. As much as I jump up and down on the couch, it’s still not the same as being there and being a part of it.
The bus to Wigan took about an hour and we were all so excited. The guys just kept talking about how incredible it was going to be, and we couldn’t believe we were going to this game. We know that not everybody gets this opportunity. It felt like the ride took forever, just sitting there waiting for the whole experience. We just wanted to get off the bus and get to the stadium. I actually wanted to get off the bus and run there. The ride there was full of emotion, so it was fun, but we were all so anxious about getting there.
We got off the bus and we didn’t park very close so we had to walk a little bit. As we got closer and closer to the Madejski Stadium, we started to see all the fans getting ready. They were singing and yelling and everyone was having a good time. We just walked around the ground and took so many pictures of everything.
Brian Perk, Greg Eckhardt, Kyle Davies and I were just taking in as much as we could. We tried to get as close to the pitch as possible and found a place behind the Wigan goal just to watch the warm ups. I don’t think any of us said a word the whole time we sat there. We were just taking it all in – the stadium, the field, the warm ups.
It’s not as famous as Old Trafford, but the Madejski Stadium is beautiful. Every Premier League stadium that I’ve seen is great. We had the opportunity to play at Reebok Stadium, where Bolton plays, and that was amazing. The pitch was unbelievable.
We took our seats among about 10,000 Manchester United fans. Wigan fans filled up three sides of the stadium and we were on the fourth.
Kyle has an English phone, so he was the one from our group in charge of keeping an eye on the Chelsea game, but all the Man U fans were letting us know what was going on. As soon as Shevchenko scored for Chelsea, we knew about it. We knew what was going on the whole time.
The funniest part about the game was that every time Ronaldo set up to take a free kick, we would all pull out our cameras and try to catch it on film. He’s scored so many goals like that over the season that we were ready to capture it if it happened again. I actually have video of the penalty kick he took to score the wining goal on my camera.
After the game was the trophy presentation. Last year I watched it on television, but being there in person is so much better. You get to see everything that the camera might not catch. It was just one of those moments that you know you’ll keep with you forever. Seeing Rio Ferdinand lift that trophy and the fireworks as he lifted it, it was exhilerating.
Actually, watching it on TV, I had no idea how the whole thing worked with the stage. It was incredible how they do it – they just have all these little pieces and you just see all these workers rushing onto the field with them. They must have put that stage together in less than a minute, and got the team up there right away with the trophy. I was excited just to see that part of it. Then we watched the cameras and photographers all getting ready.
The Wigan fans were actually very supportive of their opponents after the game. They clapped for them when they had won the championship and when they lifted the trophy. The Man U players took the trophy around the stadium and all the fans were clapping for them.
This was the first time I’ve ever seen Manchester United play live, and I want to hold on to all 90 minutes of it.
It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. Watching Manchester United win the title, being at that game and taking in that atmosphere was incredible. Watching Ronaldo do his thing, and watching Manchester United’s style in person was refreshing. It was beautiful. It was all the better that we had had the privilege of sitting with the Man U fans and cheering with them. I'm still excited just thinking about the day we had and I'm glad that as a team we were able to share such a unique experience.