Our favourite away trips in Europe

Tuesday 04 October 2022 14:58

There is nothing like following Manchester United on the road in Europe and our club staff have some unforgettable memories from trips over the years.

Ahead of only our second game in Cyprus (the first was against Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa), we know our travelling Reds will be eagerly anticipating seeing Erik ten Hag's side take on Omonia Nicosia in new surroundings.

Here is a selection of thoughts from our journalists on their favourite excursions in European competition...

Juventus in Turin (1999): Steve Bartram

"Looking back, my first ever European away with United set the bar impossibly high. A couple of months before my 18th birthday, my dad somehow managed to procure places on a day trip to Turin to see the decisive second leg of the 1999 Champions League semi-final between United and Juventus, in what would ultimately go down as arguably our greatest-ever European away performance.

"Given the volume of Bacardi consumed during the course of the trip, I’ve no idea how I remember so many little details, but I guess that’s the thing about the unforgettable. The narrative now is that United were dead and buried at two goals down, but the mood in the away end remained totally confident, such was the collective faith in that team.

"Roy Keane’s header, perhaps my favourite goal, rendered the outcome inevitable, and I recall very little tension in the travelling Reds, just the sense that we were witnessing something historic but predestined as the comeback win unfolded. I’ve been on some incredible trips both as a fan and a staff member, from the glorious (Moscow) and glamorous (Monaco) to the gritty (Lille) and gloomy (Milan), but the greatest will always be that unbeatable day and night in Turin."

Watch every touch of Roy Keane's outstanding performance in Turin.

Celta in Vigo (2017): Adam Bostock

"I still have fond memories of our first and so far only visit to Vigo in the Europa League semi-final five years ago. From north-west England, I flew with the squad and club media colleagues to the counterpart corner of Spain, the beautifully green region of Galacia. Only 75 miles north of Porto, it reminded me a little of the Portuguese city I also once visited with the Reds - also the place where Jose Mourinho made his name in European football, of course. By May 2017, he was our manager, with another continental trophy in his sights. Celta Vigo stood between the Reds and a place in the Stockholm final and their goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez became something of a one-man barrier, earning respect and even applause from reporters around me as he pulled off a string of saves to frustrate United.

"My press-box neighbour referred to him as 'El Gato' and even with my limited grasp of Spanish, I was able to smile and nod in agreement as the no.1 pawed away another shot from Henrik Mkhitaryan. Eventually, Alvarez was beaten by a brilliant Marcus Rashford free-kick and the Reds had a precious 1-0 lead to take back to Manchester for the second leg. Celta's vociferous fans, who impressed me with their pre-match scarf-twirling to AC/DC's raucous anthem, Thunderstruck, were briefly silenced before generating an electric atmosphere once again on a balmy spring evening in Vigo."

PSG in Paris (2019): Gemma Thompson

"Travelling with the team to a European away is both a privilege and an incredible experience. I’ve been lucky enough to visit over 30 countries and numerous different cities on club work trips and, while the 2008 Moscow final will always be the highlight, other stand-out ones include Kazakhstan in 2019, Rome in 2007 (on the way to winning the Champions League later that season), Milan in 2010 (winning for the first time at the San Siro) and the 2017 Europa League final when we completed 'the set'.

"But I’d have to go for the amazing victory over PSG in March 2019 when the team somehow came back to win in the most dramatic fashion in Paris thanks to Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp penalty. Cue delirium in the away end and on the bench of desks in the press box where we in the United media contingent were stationed! Memorable dressing room celebrations followed as did the greatest photo I’ll ever take in my life of Sir Alex, Ole and Eric (you may have seen it!). It was one of those ‘I was there’ nights – the kind of nights we’ve been lucky enough to experience on many occasions before with our great club and hope to many times again in the future."

Real Madrid in Macedonia (2017): Adam Marshall

"I’m lucky enough to have been on a number of European aways with United and, discounting the obvious highs of the Champions League finals in Barcelona and Moscow, plus the Europa League triumph in Stockholm, I always find it really interesting to visit countries and cities I would never normally travel to.

"I feel I'm bending the rules a bit but one such place was Skopje in Macedonia for the European Super Cup final with Real Madrid. James Tuck and I attended from our team and were met with sweltering temperatures topping 40 degrees. From attending the press conferences of two of the biggest names in the game in Jose Mourinho and Zinedine Zidane to experiencing a taste of life in the Macedonian capital, it was a hugely enjoyable stay.

"For instance, there was a site to mark where Mother Teresa was baptised (she was born there too) and a United-mad bar owner who was proud to show off his Reds memorabilia and passion for the team. As is virtually always the case on such excursions, it fills you with a great deal of respect and affection for the location and the people.

"I've also loved going to Austria, France, Germany, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and, more recently, Moldova."

The unbelievable drama in the closing stages at PSG in 2019.

Atletico in Madrid (2022): Sam Carney

"Due in part to Covid restrictions, I’ve only done two European aways so far with United – Nicosia on Thursday will be my third. Bruges in 2020 was great, but I loved going to Madrid for the Atletico game earlier this year.

"It was my first time in the Spanish capital and, although limited with what we see due to work commitments, the sense of Madrid as a football city really came across. The Wanda Metropolitano is a superb, modern football theatre and there was a dramatic sense of anticipation prior to our Champions League round-of-16 clash with Diego Simeone’s side, as Atleti fans gathered outside the ground early.

"The stadium literally shook as the Argentine’s name was read out, alongside his squad, prior to kick-off: it was quite the reception. A poor game was salvaged by Anthony Elanga’s late equaliser, which silenced the home faithful – all I could hear for days afterwards was his chant, to the tune of Snap’s Rhythm is a Dancer!"

Sheriff Tiraspol in Chisinau (2022): Harry Robinson

"Last season’s Champions League run brought some really nice trips with it. Bergamo was an easily accessible and lovely city with great food and a brilliantly old-fashioned away end. Madrid had the February sunshine, a new, exciting stadium to see and the feel of a really big match. But I think the real stand-out trips for me are the trickier ones. I greatly regretted missing out on Kazakhstan in 2019, and so when Sheriff came out of the hat this year, I quickly sorted myself out for it. And there are a few reasons it stands out.

"Chisinau, Moldova was a place I’d never normally visit, and having the excuse of United was ideal. It’s a great city with interesting and unique sights, day trips and dirt cheap high-quality food and drink. The length and difficulty of the trip also condensed the support down to a hardcore full of recognisable faces and committed Reds. Plus the journey’s hurdles give it a sense of real adventure in an era where travel is so simple. Finding routes back via Romania, Italy, Denmark, Poland and everywhere else on the continent is part of the fun. So it might be only a couple of weeks back, but Moldova has been my favourite so far."