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The city of Manchester celebrates Manchester City soccer for treble win

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A soccer team that was long considered Manchester, England's second team in the shadow of Manchester United is now the champion. Manchester City has won a hat trick of soccer competitions this year - trophies from not only England's Premier League and the FA Cup but also now from the Champions League of Europe. Manchester City is only the second team in history to do this. And tonight Manchester, the actual city, is hosting a victory parade for its hometown heroes. And NPR's Lauren Frayer is there in the thick of it all. Hi, Lauren.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: (Laughter).

FRAYER: I don't know if you can hear me...

CHANG: Oh, I can hear it.

FRAYER: ...Over the cheers behind me.

CHANG: I can hear it. And my first question is - just tell me what the atmosphere is like just being in the middle of it all.

FRAYER: It's pouring rain, but people are drenched and thrilled. I just want to play for you what it sounded like on the train into Manchester this evening.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing, inaudible).

CHANG: (Laughter).

FRAYER: So this was, like, a whole train car of fans singing Man City songs. And then I got into the city center, jammed with people waving flags. Light blue is the color of Man City. And I met this 6-year-old little girl waving a flag. Her name is Laura Webster.

LAURA WEBSTER: (Singing) Running down the wing, Silva. Make the blue boys sing, Silva. We're all going to...

FRAYER: So as you can hear, clearly, her favorite player is Bernardo Silva.

CHANG: (Laughter).

FRAYER: The team is riding in a bus through the streets of Manchester. As I said, it's raining, but that hasn't put a damper on the atmosphere here. People are thrilled. Man City is the only team in history to do this since their hometown rivals, Man United, did it way back in 1999.

CHANG: Incredible. Wait. So how did Manchester City achieve this?

FRAYER: Money.

CHANG: (Laughter).

FRAYER: Billions of dollars. Man City is the richest club in the world. Fifteen years ago, Man City was bought by a sheikh from Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mansour. And that really signified a new era in football, in soccer. We've seen big money pouring into English football from Russian oligarchs, from Arab sheikhs. The Saudis just bought Newcastle, another football team here in the north of England. But, you know, it's not just money. It's how it's spent. And Man City's owners have revitalized what used to be a kind of blighted area around the stadium, really contributed to the economic development of this city and absolutely endeared their fans to them. Here's little Laura Webster's father, Kevin Webster, who's been a Man City fan for 30 years.

KEVIN WEBSTER: We've been through some bad times, and these are the good times now, so...

FRAYER: You remember when Man City wasn't...

WEBSTER: Poor - very poor, yeah.

FRAYER: It was a poor team.

WEBSTER: Yeah. Yeah. But, I mean, you love them in your heart. You love them so much. We feel like we deserve it, though. We feel like we deserve it because of the bad times. You know, when you've looked really bad, it's like you've won the lot. You really luck out.

FRAYER: You know, so we are in the era of big money in soccer, but money doesn't guarantee success. Man City's owners have invested in players. I mean, this team is like a who's who of international soccer - Haaland, De Bruyne, Rodri, Grealish. And Man City's owners have invested not only in players but probably in one of the best coaches in the world.

CHANG: OK. So who is Man City's coach, and what role did he play in all of this?

FRAYER: Pep Guardiola. He won the Champions League with Barcelona. He was a Barcelona player then was the Barcelona manager. He went on to Bayern Munich. He took a sabbatical in New York, incidentally, refueled there and then came to manage Man City. And he built this team. He could easily walk away from football now. And he said, quote, "the job is done when you won this treble," these triple trophies. But he's got two more years on his contract. And fans here are saying, you know, that's two more years of Champions League titles to go for.

CHANG: More to come. That is NPR's Lauren Frayer in Manchester, England. Thank you so much, Lauren.

FRAYER: Thanks for having me.

CHANG: Have so much fun over there.

(SOUNDBITE OF OHNO SONG, "DROWSY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.
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