World Cup memories (10): around the world in 18 days

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Not really a break for Pete Sixsmith, whose series of World Cup reminiscences resumes tomorrow. But I also have reason to remember France 98. It was the year I feared I’d be keeping my head down in street battles, but ended up travelling the world …

Imagine you’ve been told at work that you’re going on a month of night shifts, and suddenly you’re given a paid holiday instead. Or that instead of representing your company at a winter conference in Skegness, the location has been switched to the Seychelles.

That was a bit like my France 98. I spent the first four months of the year or more expecting The Daily Telegraph to send me to report on hooliganism, especially any outbreaks involving England fans, or more accurately violent English criminals drawn to the location of football games. It would be an understatement to say I was not looking forward to it.

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Who are you? We’re Manchester United (2)


That’s more like it, Salut! Sunderland said mischievously: a Manchester United supporter in the Red Devils’ heartland of – you guessed – Denmark. But Helge Conradsen* is not just another far-away, never-been-to-Old-Trafford gloryseeker. He heads Denmark’s branch of the MUFC supporters’ club, has 47 years’ service as a United fan, owns a dog named after Cantona and is probably the best-known and most knowledgeable of all the club’s Danish fans. We love the way his brother “was once” a supporter of Sunderland (how can such an allegiance be fleeting?) …

Salut! Sunderland How does a Danish person end up supporting Manchester United fan? Why not Hull City or Derby County, for example, or your local club in Denmark?

I was 10 when I saw my first FA Cup Final on Danish TV. It was in 1963. Manchester United played Leicester City. I didn’t know anything about the teams but the team in the dark shirts (there was no colour TV then) played really well. A small striker caught my eyes. I found out that the name of the team was Manchester United and that the name of the player was Denis Law. Since then Manchester United have been my passion and Law my favourite player. I follow both English and Danish football but nothing can compare with Manchester United.

Read moreWho are you? We’re Manchester United (2)