NFL's Menelik Watson proud to be a City fan
- 25 May 2013 10:46
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
Now Britain’s highest ever drafted player in the NFL after being picked by the Oakland Raiders, Menelik Watson’s heart is still coloured the sky blue of City.
Born and bred in Manchester, Menelik’s voice becomes more animated when the subject of City is brought up, and he is quick to explain what first turned him on to the Blues.
“When I was growing up we didn’t have a TV in our house but we used to have Man United cups!” the 24-year-old admitted. “My real dad was a Nottingham Forest fan but he liked United too so naturally we all started watching them, but there was a time when some bad things were written about United.
“After that I learnt a lot more about football and then I realised that we had this team, City, which was actually in the heart of Manchester – playing at Maine Road in front of loyal fans who weren’t just in it for success.
"From there I thought this is my team, this is the right team to follow. Back then I can’t even remember what league we were in! I’ve been through the highs and the lows of promotion and relegation.”
It’s an exciting time to be a City fan in the USA, with the Blues squad currently in the middle of a post-season tour to the states, where they face Chelsea on Saturday in the second of two highly-anticipated friendly fixtures.
Football has been growing in popularity and influence across the Atlantic in recent years, but is currently enjoying something of an explosion.
“Americans are really interested in what the sport is,” Menelik reflected. “For the UK, it’s more than a sport, it’s a passion and once America can get to grips with that passion I think it will take off even more over here.
“I can definitely see them starting to watch it - especially the kids and the younger generation. People are FIFA crazy over here too.
“But they’ve got to stop calling it soccer and start calling it football like everyone else!”
Although he’s confident that the Blues can reclaim the title they won so dramatically in 2012 when the new season kicks off, Menelik is refusing to be downhearted about a 2012/13 campaign which saw City finish as Premier League runners up and reach the FA Cup final.
“I’ve had a lot of people telling me that it’s been a bad year, especially my brother and my friends who have been rubbing it in because they’re all United fans,” he explained. “But I’ve been through the times when we haven’t been up there challenging, and the fact that we’re in the top two and we can stay there is fantastic.
“We lost the FA Cup and we had a chance to creep up on United at the end of the season and we didn’t, but we finished in second place, we’re better than Chelsea and we’re better than Arsenal! We just need to keep that up and focus on not being a one hit wonder and we’ll be fine.
“I’m proud of them no matter what.”