We get all sorts of people knocking on our front door, but nothing could prepare me for what happened on Wednesday evening. I figured it could be one of our son’s school friends, a neighbour or a delivery driver when the doorbell rang.
Instead, I opened up to be greeted by former Manchester City player and club ambassador Micah Richards, with a beaming smile on his face and the Premier League trophy held firmly in his grasp.
The surprise visit of a club hero and the trophy had been cooked up by the club, City Football Schools’ Abu Dhabi management team, who our younger son Robert plays for, and my wife Sarah, who had been keeping the whole thing secret for the best part of a week.
Richards holds a special place in City’s recent history for long-standing supporters like me, making his debut as a 17-year-old in 2005. He was a bright light in a generally muted period of City’s history, who subsequently flourished in the first phase of the revolution at the club following the Abu Dhabi takeover 11 years ago, winning both the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League in 2012. He represented his club and country with distinction.
Now he is on a tour with the six trophies currently held by City: the Premier League trophy, the FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield for the men’s team, as well as the FA Women’s Cup and the FSL Continental Cup. All of them are scheduled to make public appearances over the next couple of days in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, although one piece of silverware in our house was quite enough excitement for me.
The Premier League trophy, all 15kg of it including its malachite plinth base, doesn’t travel light. Richards and the trophy arrived with two very friendly handlers, who are tasked with keeping it safe and are well-versed in dealing with the excitement it creates wherever it goes: Can I touch it? No. Is it the real one? Yes. How many are there? Two. Has it ever been dropped? Yes.
The whole discombobulating experience lasted an hour. The trophy sat, dressed in sky blue and white ribbons, on the table in our front room as Richards genially answered questions about his career and what it was like to win the biggest football prizes with the club he had joined as a boy.
Was it a dream? No. Am I still smiling? Yes. Was it one of those moments I’ll never forget? Without doubt.