As I have said many times, both on this site and to those who know me, my father in law is the biggest soccer, or football, fan that I know. A die hard Manchester United fan, my mother in law is from Manchester, England, my father in law’s obsession with the English Premier League rivals my fandom of our beloved Baltimore Ravens. To the point that he documents, with pen and paper, the entire season, keeping track of points earned, goals, and match results…..and he has done this since the early 1970’s.
I myself was never a big fan of soccer. We had a mantra when I was in high school that the only reason our school had a soccer team was to give the guys cut from the football team something to do. But in the years that I have been married to his daughter, my father in law has taught this ugly American what the “beautiful game” is all about. Of course, in the process, he created a Manchester City fan. From their days at Maine Road to the squad that today features some of the EPL’s best like Carlos Tevez, Robinho, and my personal favorite, Craig Bellamy, I support the Blue and White. Much to his chagrin of course.
So last year, when he heard that hated Chelsea was coming to M&T Bank Stadium for an international friendly with AC Milan, my father in law, putting his hatred of Chelsea aside, had to be there. He was. I watched the game on television with my wife, and seeing some of the greatest players in the international game, like Drogba, Terry, Lampard, Ronaldinho, and Cech playing in MY football stadium in MY city, was something I won’t soon forget. Even as a passive fan of international soccer, I found the circumstances pretty amazing.
And this year, it only gets better. My team is coming to town.
The Blue and White invades Baltimore on July 31st.
City comes to town.
And this isn’t just any other international friendly. Manchester City will be facing the best club team in all of Europe. Inter Milan won their league title. They won the Italian Cup. And, for good measure, they captured the UEFA Champions League title. The rare “treble” as it is called in international soccer, is a feat that is achieved maybe once every decade or so. Manchester United won it in 1999. Bayern Munich, Inter’s foe in the Champions League final, could have pulled off the feat in Germany had they beaten Inter. They won their league and the German Cup, but as we know faltered in the UEFA final.
My point to all that is, this isn’t just a pickup game between two teams from Patterson Park. This is a game featuring one of the up and coming powerhouses in English football (City), and one of the best club teams in the world (Inter). And on July 31st, they come play in Ray Lewis’ house. The sod will be laid, and once again, my Baltimore will be on an international stage as two of the sports greatest teams face off. The shame of it all is that Inter’s former manager, Jose Morinho, who also managed Chelsea, took the Real Madrid job and won’t be in Baltimore that night. My mother in law has the hots for good ol’ Jose. She’s heartbroken.
Anyway, I can’t wait until July 31st. I love Man City, and with each season, I become more and more of a soccer fan, almost to the point that I’m ready to watch the MLS. Almost.
P.S.: Real Madrid, if you read this, please come play a friendly here soon, my wife LOVES Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronny, please take her with you!!!