'1999 Champions League triumph most memorable'

'1999 Champions League triumph most memorable'

Manchester United football player Wes Brown. Photo Srikanta Sharma R.

A gruelling 90 minutes had been played at the iconic Camp Nou on May 26, 1999 and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United trailed German heavyweights Bayern Munich 0-1, courtesy a goal from Mario Basler. What unfolded has been rated as one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history as Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sparked scenes of absolute ecstasy, bringing the coveted trophy back to Manchester after a 31-year wait.

It was a nerve-wracking experience for the then 20-year-old Wes Brown who was watching from the confines of the dugout but the centre-back, with a wealth of 13 trophies to his name through his club career, singled out that night in Barcelona as the most memorable moment of his career.

“The feeling everyone had that night after what happened was great. The scenario and how we won the Champions League in 1999 was memorable. That was hard to beat,” remarked Brown adding that his 2008 win with the club in the tournament was a close second despite him assisting Cristiano Ronaldo for the opening goal. 

After moving away from his boyhood club, Brown made the switch to Sunderland in 2011 before playing for Blackburn Rovers in 2016 and eventually ending up at Kerala Blasters, making a distinct impression in the recently concluded Indian Super League.

Divulging that he has had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Kochi club, Brown said: “The new football scene of India and league is four years old. I knew it was going to be different before I took up the job. I enjoyed my time at Kerala. The lads are great you know. They understand the game. Obviously, the ISL is not the Premier League but it’s different. Hopefully, through the years you can get the quality and the high standards better,” Brown said at a Manchester United promotional event on Friday.

The 38-year-old also explained that for the sport to grow in India, there is a necessity to have a better foundation with the younger age groups.

“100 percent it needs to be stronger at the grassroots level. It was different when I was younger. We started football like you start cricket here - from a young age. The basic things like dribbling and ball control come naturally without thinking and the standard will get higher,” he reasoned. 

United and Arsenal have been age-old rivals in the Premier League and Brown has witnessed clashes aplenty from close quarters. On April 20, Arsene Wenger made a monumental announcement that he will leave the club at the end of the season and Brown expressed nothing but respect for the Frenchman.

“It has been exciting time under him and he has been a great manager for Arsenal. He’s won many trophies and he’s not done that in the last 10 years as he did before. Fans are not happy about that. But I feel it’s the time to celebrate his achievements rather than look at the negative aspects. He has been a great manager for Arsenal,” he said.

Just a little under a year ago, the Brown family had to face a harrowing experience as the oldest of three daughters was at the Manchester Arena when the terrorist attacks took place. Brown’s wife Leanne received a frantic call from Halle but fortunately, the teenager escaped the crime scene without being hurt. “It was the first time I let her go on her own. Luckily, she was safe and was okay after the incident. It was distressing. We got her on the phone the whole time (when the bomb went off). It made us know that she was okay but for everything that happened, it was a bad time,” he recollected.

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