"Oh, what a night!
Late in May ’99!
Ole scored a goal in extra time!
What a feeling!
What a night!”
Trying to trace what it was about Manchester United that first got him hooked to the club, Chaitanya Lekhwani starts screaming in reminiscence, bursting out into the terrace chant about Manchester United’s memorable victory over Bayern Munich in injury time in the 1999 Champions League final.
Lekhwani works with a digital agency in Delhi. He’s had stints with a couple of football start-ups, written extensively about the sport, hosted live events, and had an online show. He doesn’t remember how or exactly when it began, but his love for the club is indescribably etched into him. “I had a speech impediment in school; I used to stammer. So I was bullied. When you go back home, you want to get away from that,” he says. “In life, you want to associate with something you can understand is doing well for you, and you for them. That rapport, that emotional connection, is with an entity that doesn’t even have to be human or tangible. There’s no transaction involved; it’s very instinctive. When I started going back home and watching, there was an emotional connect, and it hit me.”