5 lessons learned after watching a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick

Football is the game of the world and with the help of streaming, it seems to be getting more popular here in the state. The United States Women’s National Team certainly helped matters, as did Hershey, Pennsylvania’s top Christian Pulisic. Seeing American players in big leagues like the English Premier League and La Liga is important for developing the game in the United States.

I started watching during the pandemic and seemed to hang out with Liverpool fans over the years which made me more open to the game. I still don’t understand some of the rules but I’m starting to learn and I prepared for some offsides, in particular. I think they should remove it or change it to have more goals but it’s really because I’m going to sit for 45 minutes and the only time I get up to do something I I feel like I always miss a goal. It’s also my problem with hockey, and it’s a frustrating watch most of the time.

So, me being the football expert that I am now, and getting a little familiar with the game that everyone seems to love besides the Americans, I jumped at the chance to travel to Manchester to watch a game at Old Trafford thanks to the good people at Marriott Bonvoy as they celebrate Marriott International’s partnership with Manchester United. I watched the match from the Suite of Dreams where a lucky Man U fan will be the first to wake up at Old Trafford on match day, in a hospitality suite that will be converted into a Marriott Hotels room for one night only. Anyway, here’s what I learned about myself, football and Manchester on my trip.

Manchester has a healthy graffiti scene
One of the first things that catches my eye when traveling abroad is the graffiti scene and Manchester has some solid stuff. I’m not talking about street art, I’m talking about tags, tokens and coins all featuring a variety of hand styles. It tells me that hip-hop has seeped into the youth and it informs how I approach an unknown place. They even played a British rap song or two at Old Trafford as the players warmed up before the game. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.

Image via complex original

Baked beans for breakfast are good
Listen, I too was skeptical about baked beans for breakfast. Every time I saw a picture online of an English breakfast, I backed away, ignoring the paths across the pond. During my stay I decided to try a full English breakfast and I can’t lie to people, it kind of slapped. It also helped that the beans didn’t taste like American baked beans which are sometimes more sweet than salty. A full English breakfast is perfect for hangovers. I understand now, excuse my ignorance.

You can’t drink at football games
It upset me. Not only can you not drink, but if you’re in a suite, people come and lower the blinds once the game starts, so you can’t even watch unless you’re outside the suite. It wasn’t that bad, I had no idea it was a thing and apparently it’s been since 1985? What I also found interesting is that there is a separate fan section for the visiting club and they have an army of security standing on the stairs to make sure nothing happens. Besides getting used to the cars driving across the street and the hot dog beans for breakfast, this was the biggest culture shock.

Ronaldo is the greatest
I always feel lost when it comes to the Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi debates because I don’t watch the games like some of my friends and colleagues. However, I am ready to say that Ronaldo is the greatest. My very first football match and CR7 gives me a hat-trick at Old Trafford? He is a goat in my book and knowing the history of this land made this moment special for me. We also got to watch Man U practice a bit at the Trafford training center and we made eye contact, he winked and smiled like I was the only person there. Maybe there’s a crush man there or maybe the guy is just that magnetic. This cat was so inspiring during the game, my nemesis Tom Brady not only decided to follow me across the pond, he came out of retirement! Either way, watching one of the greatest goalscorers of all time score not one, not two, but three goals is something I will never forget. It’s right up there with me watching Michael Jordan and Dražen Petrović go there during Carl Lewis’ infamous national anthem game.

I am a football expert
I have read the Old Trafford and Man U wikipedia pages several times and can now say with the utmost confidence that I am now a football expert. I watched more football last week than I have ever seen in my entire life. Honestly, I learned so much on this trip. I hope I know how to respond when everyone says “well done” to me. I don’t know why, but I froze every time and just gave a cool, nonchalant nod.

And maybe the next time I get to sing a song with the Stretford End lads, they’ve got the place going, controlling the crowd like puppeteers. I don’t know if I will ever choose a team. It’s too heartbreaking. I have seen adults cry as if they had lost a loved one in a regular season loss. I’m already a Knicks fan, I can’t take the despair anymore. Football is in good stead and will continue to grow in popularity here in the United States. MLB should consider how the EPL and the rest of Europe’s major soccer leagues promote their players.

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