Manchester United Change

Manchester United Henry Winter

I’ve been reporting on football for twenty-eight years now and there are two stand out memories that made for two of the most difficult working nights of my career, but they led to two of the most momentous and dramatic stories that you could ever have the joy to cover.

Wednesday 26th May 1999 Nou Camp – Bayern Munich v Manchester United

5 minutes to go in the Champions League final and ribbons in Bayern’s colours were being attached to the European Cup. I’d written 950 words on the German’s victory over the English, how tactically Ferguson had been completely outwitted, what on earth was he doing bringing three wingers in to midfield? I’d filed the report that was pretty much the usual stuff on German v English matches.

Then began the most extraordinary end to a game that I’ve ever seen or covered. When the first goal went in from Sheringham and was then followed by Solskjaer, it was the most incredible moment for the players, fans and everyone associated with Manchester United and any neutral was just jumping around with excitement.

I looked around the press box in Barcelona and it was absolute carnage. All the print sites were rolling on one little wire, so I just picked up the phone and screamed a couple of ad lib paragraphs of the dramatic late turn around – Manchester United defy the odds to turn logic on its head with two late, late goals to win the European Cup. Those two paragraphs were of course then followed by 950 words of criticism of Ferguson’s tactics!

I recall rushing around the bowels of the Nou Camp talking to people, the marvellous sight of David Beckham, walking around the big turn up the tunnel towards the Manchester United coach; the symbol of Manchester United, the symbol of England, holding the European Cup. It was an emotional moment for him, coming a year after being vilified by the public got getting sent off for England in St Etienne.

Teddy Sheringham stopped to talk and I asked him what his plans were for the summer. He told me that having got so much stick from Arsenal fans about his move to Old Trafford and not having picked up a trophy, he was probably going to wander around North London with his three medals round his neck, having now won the treble. Ferguson also spoke emotionally afterwards and I then had to tie all that in to my re-write and get that out for the second edition.

I eventually headed off to a bar with a couple of friends who were over there as Manchester United supporters and as we walked in, the Bayern fans applauded the United fans. The whole experience was wonderfully sporting and an absolute pleasure to be involved in.

At the start of the next season, Ferguson came up to a group of us who had been at the Nou Camp and simply said ‘I saw your first editions’ and smiled……

Henry Winter

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