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Manchester keeps Pune trophy date with its ‘city’ fans

EPL title holders bring premier league trophy to Pune as part of world tour

pune Updated: Oct 11, 2018 14:34 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
Man City,Pune,trophy
Man City ‘legend’ Paul Dickov and FC Pune City forward Robin Singh pose with the English Premier league trophy at Aufside in Pune on Wednesday/(HT Photo/ Shankar Narayan)

If winning the Premier League and EFL Cup double last season wasn’t enough to send Manchester City fans in Pune and all over the world into a state of euphoria, Wednesday evening at Aufside in Hotfut in Kumar Pacific Mall certainly did as the supporters were treated to an experience like none other. Manchester City, as a part of their Centurions tour, for amassing a record-breaking 100 points in the league last season, brought the two trophies to Pune and gave fans a once in a lifetime opportunity to pose with them.

Along with the trophies, there was another reward for the City fans in Pune as club legend Paul Dickov was also in attendance for the event. A ferocious striker in his heyday, Dickov scored an impressive 35 goals for the Manchester outfit and is still remembered fondly among the Etihad Stadium faithful.

This is the first occasion in the club’s history that Manchester City have brought their Premier League trophy to India and Dickov was excited to be a part of the blockbuster. Speaking on Wednesday evening in regards to being here in Pune and about promoting the brand of the club globally, Dickov said, “It is very important to have a fanbase not only in our city but also around the world and I believe this is the right way to get it done. Yes, other clubs have had a head start on us but we’re seeing more and more supporters following the club. I believe our style of play is what draws a number of people to watch our games and Pep, coming in with his own legacy as a player and manager has certainly helped us gain more fans worldwide.”

The city of Pune is synonymous for its football culture through its very own Indian Super League (ISL) club - FC Pune City. After three underwhelming seasons, the Maratha Stallions defied all odds to make it to semi-finals of the fourth edition of the competition in the 2017-18 again. The ISL has also coincided with the rise of the national team’s FIFA rankings (97th currently). When quizzed about the impact it has had on the sport in the country, the City legend said, “Indian football is growing very well, but it takes patience. I think the primary thing they have to look at is grassroots development. From what I have heard is that the right infrastructure is in place and that’s very important. The ISL is certainly been extremely beneficial in terms of promoting the game.”

Man City’s Paul Dickov interacts with Pune’s ‘City’ fans. (HT Photo)

Manchester City Pune’s involvement in executing the event seamlessly is something that must not go understated as each member from the club contributed massively to ensure that Wednesday evening was a success. Hindustan Times managed to get in touch with the founding members of the club - Anand Yawalkar and Tanmay Ved.

Explaining how they managed to get the trophy to Pune, they said, “We are Pune’s official Manchester City supporters club and are in constant touch with the club. A few months back the club told us about having a trophy tour in India and other countries around the world. Initially, the venues of Delhi and Mumbai were pre-decided and Pune wasn’t one of them. Recently, they had asked for a global poll to be done for a trophy tour that included names of suitable cities to have it in. Thankfully 2000 votes were for Pune, and along with Cairo, our city was added to the list.”

The fans from the city will certainly be hoping that the club adds to its ever-growing list of trophies and more and more activities continue taking place in Pune which will give the die-hard supporters an opportunity to get closer to the club they love dearly.

Who is Paul Dickov?

Paul Dickov is a former Scotland international who has played over 150 professional games for Manchester City. The 45-year-old represented the club in two stints – 1996 to 2002 and 2006 to 2008. During his days, as Citizens’ talisman, the Scottish attacker scored 35 league goals and also played a pivotal role in bringing Manchester City to the Championship from League One during the turn of the century. Dickov has now ventured into football management and has managed Doncaster Rovers and Oldham Athletic – that play in League One and League Two respectively.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 14:34 IST