Legen – wait for it – dary

There are host of events going on after exam. Panagea and Whitfest are just over. If you don’t know, Whitfest is the after-exam day-long event in Whitworth Park. People are touring and visiting places as well. A week and half back, I went to Old Trafford to see the Legends match between Manchester United and Real Madrid. This was a charity match organised by Red Heart United and the match raised over £800,000. The entire amount will go to Manchester United Foundation, to help fund projects that benefit young people in disadvantaged areas of Greater Manchester.

The first leg was played in Madrid with result 3-2 in favor of Real Madrid. The Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos played that match, who didn’t play in the second leg. I personally would love to watch him play. But, we were blessed to see the match with this lineup.

United: Van der Sar (van der Gouw 70); Berg (Martin 9), Stam, Johnsen, Irwin; Blackmore (van Nistelrooy 46), Fortune, Scholes, Sharpe (Thornley 51, Blomqvist 87); Yorke, Cole.
Real Madrid: Contreras (Sanchez 62); Salgado (Pavon 69), Helguera, Pavon (McManaman 46), Amavisca; Figo (Vazquez 78), Hierro, Makelele (Sanz 62), Zidane; Morientes, van Nistelrooy (De la Red 46)

For me, the best player in my generation is Zidane. He was the primary reason that I went to the match. We had good seats as well, just in the second row at East End. It is another matter though that the better play happened at Strafford End. Nevertheless, it was thrilling to see the reflexes of Van der Sar, anticipation and tackle of Stam-Hierro-Makalele, vision and skill from Zidane-Figo-Scholes and striking power of Nistelrooy. Rest all, the likes of Yorke-Cole-Salgado-Morientes, played well as well.

Zizou the Magician

Before the match, there was a concert which I personally found boring. Anchors continued to engage the audience and made very nice interaction with the crowd. Specially the conversation between few kids and the anchor was really funny. And then there were priceless expression of those kids, reacting to comments like ‘You look like Scholes, don’t be ashamed, that’s a good thing’ or ‘Josh, is that your sister or girlfriend’! 🙂

The players took over around 2.10 pm. Even in the warm-up, we felt that this was going to be a serious match, not like friendly stuff that we used to see in the past. When the organizers announced the players’ names, the largest cheer was reserved for Niselrooy, Scholes, Zidane and Stam.

Maestros - Figo and Scholes

It should be noted that Niselrooy was the only player in this match, played successfully for both teams in his career. He started the game wearing Real Madrid jersey. In the first half itself, Van der Sar saved at least half-dozen attempts on goal. Zidane-Figo-Niselrooy combo threatened Manchester United defense again and again. In both halves, Figo’s wing play was absolute treat to watch. Scholes and Stam tried their best, but lack of proper strikers made Manchester United second fiddle in the first half.

At the end of first half, the score was 1-0 in favor of Real Madrid with Morientes as the scorer. Second half started with Nistelrooy switching sides from Real Madrid to Manchester United. The match then shifted to even balance. Nistelrooy equalized soon in the second half. But, just few minutes before the end, De la Red scored with a beautiful chip to end the match in favor of Real Madrid with 2-1.

Nistelrooy evaded a tackle from Stam

During the whole match, players seemed to be fit enough to play regular league matches. Scholes is recently retired. Zidane-Figo-Stam played like as they did in their younger days. Zidane and Stam both played full match-duration. Another person who was present at the match is Sir Alex Ferguson, smiling and enjoying the game. He even initiated Mexican wave at the second half. Also in the first half, there are rounds of Mexican wave went around the stadium. After the match, primiership trophy was paraded with huge cheer. With the supporters encouraging players(not in case of McManaman though ;)) and cheering for the teams, we all had a great match. We understood that players like Zidane-Figo-Stam-Van der Sar were, are and will always be Legends. Leaving you with Match Highlights.