x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

'A lot of prestige in being an Emirati in Manchester right now'

Osama Alamiri, a presenter for Abu Dhabi TV, was at Etihad Stadium on Sunday to see Man City snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Osama Alamiri was hugged by an old lady on learning he was from Abu Dhabi.
Osama Alamiri was hugged by an old lady on learning he was from Abu Dhabi.

Osama Alamiri, a presenter for Abu Dhabi TV, was at Etihad Stadium on Sunday to see Man City snatch glorious victory from the jaws of defeat. And, he tells The National, there is a lot of prestige in being an Emirati in Manchester right now

After the game, an elderly lady approached and asked if I was from Abu Dhabi. When I said yes, she started hugging me.

"Please, give big hugs to Sheikh Mansour," she said.

She was there in 1968, when Manchester City last won the title. This time, she said, "is totally different. This is excellent, this is priceless".

It certainly was different. Five minutes before, everybody had been ready to cry. City were 2-1 down having come so close to achieving what they had failed to do for 44 years.

But when they scored the third goal the place went crazy. It was the most exciting moment in Premier League history and I was thinking, is it a football game or an action movie?

For a while there were a lot of people who didn't realise it had happened. I met people who said: "Please, wake me up."

There were many fans with shocked faces. They didn't know what to do, how to react.

They had kept the faith, kept supporting the team all the time. Even when City conceded a goal they reacted very well. They are very good fans and they deserved to win the title.

When the game went into injury time I started to imagine how miserable it would be for City fans, how dramatic for Manchester United fans.

I was thinking about City ending the season with no trophy, and all the pressure that would come on manager Roberto Mancini.

I had totally different questions in mind as I got ready to go down to interview Mancini and the players after the game.

Then Edin Dzeko scored and the place was jumping. And when Sergio Aguero hit the winner people went crazy. Scoring such a goal in such a game with such pressure in the 94th minute was brilliant.

On the pitch, Mancini said he was very happy for the owners and fans. They had done everything they could to win the title and finally they were there, they were the champions.

Vincent Kompany, the captain, said there were no words to explain the feeling of lifting the Premier League trophy.

Last month I interviewed Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the UAE Minister of Presidential Affairs and Manchester City's owner, and asked him if he would be happy with what the club had achieved, whether or not they won the title.

He said: "Even if they don't win the title, I'm very satisfied with all the efforts they've made and all their results. They have achieved all the targets we set from the beginning."

Kompany heard about this, and said amid Sunday's celebrations: "It took all the pressure off us, because Sheikh Mansour was satisfied with what we had done."

All of the fans were talking about how important winning the title was for them, and when they learnt I was an Emirati from Abu Dhabi they started talking about Sheikh Mansour and what a person he was.

There was an Englishman wearing a kandura, ghutra and agal to show his appreciation. I went to the stand to fix the ghutra and agal properly for him. They showed it on the main screen in the stadium and everyone was cheering.

After the game, fans were still celebrating as if the winning goal had just been scored.

Someone would be walking along the road and out of nowhere he would jump up and shout: "Come on City!"

 

* Osama Alamiri was talking to Colin Simpson.