Reds Around The World returns to Africa. Ibrahim Umar is a Red from Nigeria who was kind enough to share his story of supporting Manchester United. Feel free to follow him on Twitter: @aaramz
How do you watch United in your country?
I usually go to local viewing centres to watch the games on Super Sport with other United fans. It’s more enjoyable; it gives you the chance to meet other United fans around you.
What time of the day does United play in your time zone?
I am lucky that Nigeria has almost the same time zone as the UK. It’s only an hour difference, perfect time I have to say.
Does supporting United sometimes dictate your life? Would you miss sleep/class/work to see United play?
Of course it does. I watched all United games every season, you can’t do that without missing classes. I hardly think twice when a United game corresponds with my lectures. People used to think that I only keep those who support United as friends; they always asked whether it’s a coincidence that almost all my friend are United fans.
How did you become a Manchester United fan?
My passion for football starts around 1994, watching Nigeria at the World Cup in USA. I became attracted to United through watching European football highlights on national television. I started watching United fully around 97/98. Then came the amazing 98/99 season when we won the Treble. Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, and more importantly Sir Alex Ferguson are the reason I fell deeply in love with the club.
Is anyone else in your family a Manchester United fan?
My brothers, cousin, nephew. All huge United fans, regular readers of the top United bloggers, we watched most of the games together.
Are there a lot of Fellow supporters around you?
There are many. Though no Nigerian has ever played for United, incredibly there are many people who love and support United dearly. Arsenal also had a huge number of followers since Kanu came to the club. But still 2/3 of football fans in the country support United. United recognise this by coming to play a pre-season in the summer of 2008. Rio Ferdinand also was invited to the country by the Governor of Lagos, who’s a huge supporter of the club.
What makes you more drawn to Manchester United?
Football had not had a huge role in my country. Actually the league in Nigeria is not that big, more so, the teams are owned by the government, so the excitement isn’t there. As much as I love to watch my local team (Gombe United) I have to look elsewhere for real footballing action. In Nigeria, we’re more drawn to English football than any other European league. United is the club that I decided to love. It runs in my blood now.
What was your most defining moment as a United fan?
Moscow 2008 surely. It’s still in my memory that I always remember it every passing day. It’s one of the few times that I cried of joy and happiness in my life. There’s that amzing feeling to watch your beloved team lifting that prestigeous trophy. Football bloody hell, some moments are unforgettable.
How do you stay involved in the United community despite being so far from Old Trafford?
Twitter has been a fantastic link with the other fans so far. It’s the sole reason why I signed up. Thanks to United now I made more friends in my city, country and around the world who have great passion for the club.
Have you ever been to Old Trafford?
No, still my biggest dream though.
How long have you been supporting Manchester United?
Been supporting United for 14 years now. Cherished every bit of it.
Is United your only team, or do you support different clubs in different leagues?
Manchester United is my only team. As a football fan I watched other top European football matches whenever I have the time. I always have time for United.
Do you feel not living in Manchester makes it more challenging to be a fan?
Yeah, sometimes. There’s always that challenging feeling of how it could be to be cheering them at Old Trafford or at other grounds. However, I never felt a difference in my ebullience and devotion to the club just because I am not in Manchester.
Do you believe you’re on the same level as fans that come from Manchester?
On the same level of course, may be more than, the thing is they have the privilege of being in Manchester, so it’s natural when they support their home team. I’m hundreds of kilometres away and still love the club.
Have you ever encountered difficulties from fellow United Supporters because of where you are from?
Though there times when I got brushed off, but many fans appreciates sharing opinions with others despite where they come from. I think a genuine fan shouldn’t be judged from where they are.
What has been your greatest moment watching United?
Champions League Final 1999. Ronaldo vs. Fulham. When United visited Nigeria. Moscow 2008, to mention but few.
Written by Kyle Diller.