Much has been made of Manchester United’s illustrious history and the respect it guarantees the club throughout the world.
Yet it is only when you travel abroad that you genuinely appreciate the esteem in which the Reds are held and the excitement generated when the team comes to town.
Athens was abuzz during our stay in the Greek capital – literally the only topic of conversation anywhere appeared to be the big Champions League game against Olympiacos. Every taxi driver had his opinion on the match, many wanting United to win due to their allegiance to Panathinaikos or AEK Athens, but one message was a constant in every discussion I held over there.
To the Greek followers of football, who admire the pace and power of the Premier League and the excitement generated by the English style of play, United are placed on a lofty pedestal. The Reds and Liverpool enjoy the utmost respect simply because of what they have achieved in the game over a long period of time.
It is this illustrious past that lifts the club above English rivals and ensures a respect that remains, irrespective of current form. Fans recounted their memories of the club's classic games and legendary players and were fascinated by current stars such as Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj.
One cab driver even admitted his all-time favourite player is Bryan Robson and explained how he felt great sympathy for the former England captain for his bad luck with injuries at major tournaments. He was enthralled by the ex-midfielder's courageous and combative style, feeling he epitomised the British spirit.
Make no mistake, the Olympiacos match itself was an extreme disappointment and the players were clearly hurting like the fans afterwards, but it was difficult beforehand not to feel pride to be associated with Manchester United when dealing with our hosts and listening to their views on the players on both sides.