As it prepares to lock horns with England in the fourth cricket Test in Manchester, the Indian team took a tour of ‘Theatre of Dreams’, home of Manchester United football club, learning about one of the greatest sporting legacies.
A bus carrying team India arrived in the premises of the Old Trafford football ground on Sunday. The players got down and grouped at the entrance of the stadium and walked in through the tunnel to the sound of Fanfare for Rocky music.
The team was led by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a football enthusiast and an ardent Man U fan, and all the cricketers paid full attention to every word uttered by the tour guide.
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The tour began from the Manchester United dressing room where the jerseys of the current team members were hung, marking their respective spots in the room.
Then came the time to enter the arena — the Theatre of Dreams — where the Red Devils show their daredevilry in front of over 67,000 adoring fans.
The Indian cricketers could relate to it but here they were just a bunch of boys learning about the historic football club and appreciating the tradition built over 100 years, the BCCI TV reported.
They then gathered for group photos in the Manchester United dugout and were given a special permission to set foot on the pitch.
The skipper took time to get himself clicked near the home team dugout, and the others followed suit.
While the rest of the boys soaked in the atmosphere and captured the moments in their camera, Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir had long discussions with the authorities who were showing the team around.
The players also shopped at the Manchester United merchandise mega store.
After shopping, the team was taken to visit the Munich tunnel – a place where the club has immortalised its players who lost their lives in the air tragedy of 1958.
As the guide walked them through the commemorative plaques and the eternal flame while giving out the details of the fatalities and survivors, the playfulness made way for gloom.
The cheers were back when they were taken to a football pitch to have a few kicks in the net. Dhoni the wicketkeeper turned into a goalkeeper as his team mates tested his skills with a barrage of straight kicks. From the stadium, the Indian team was taken to the Man Utd academy and training facility.