My United: Dominic Monaghan
Lord of the Rings and Lost actor Dominic Monaghan on his Stretford End days, United/City family rivalries and hanging out with the lads on tour…
Alongside acting, United have always been one of the most important things in my life. I grew up about 15 minutes from the ground and was a regular at matches until I moved to the States – unfortunately there’s more work here than in Manchester. I still get back when I can and much of my life is planned around following United; wherever I am in the world I make sure I’m free to watch the games no matter what time of day or night. And I wear my shirt everywhere – to the gym, on set, during TV interviews… wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, the club are never far from my thoughts.
We hear there are split loyalties in your family…
Yeah my dad has always been a big City fan, whereas me and my brother grew up as Reds. Derby day is always interesting in our house and now with what’s happened at City in the last few years it means even more. Me and my brother went to as many games as we could from about the age of 11 – my uncle would take us as he was a Red as well. I remember standing on the Stretford End as though it was yesterday. They were great times.
Do you see City as our biggest rivals now or is it still Liverpool?
It’s changed a lot over the years. Of course, it always used to be Liverpool – for years we were desperately trying to match what they had achieved and now we’ve overtaken them in terms of titles. It seems like that rivalry is a little hollow nowadays because you never really feel Liverpool will be a threat for the title, well we all hope they won’t be! All us United fans probably have to come to terms with the fact that our major rivals are Manchester City now; it certainly seems likely to be that way for the next few years anyway. They’re a strong team, organised and have top players and they’re our local neighbours which makes it even more interesting. But in some ways I welcome the challenge and the fact that it really puts Manchester on the map in terms of world football, and it certainly makes every derby even more interesting. I think it’s great to see the two Manchester teams going head to head for the big prizes.
Who’s your United hero?
There are so many I admire. Mark Hughes was a big idol of mine when I was younger, so was [Eric] Cantona. I got to know Ruud [van Nistelrooy] quite well when he was here and he was a player I always enjoyed watching. Of the current squad, Giggs and Scholes are absolute legends, but for me it has to be Rooney. Whenever he plays well you always feel we have a chance.
What’s your best moment following United?
The Treble obviously stands out. In terms of memorable games I’d have to say the Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona at Old Trafford [in 2008]. I’d flown in from America for the game and when people talk about goals electrifying Old Trafford, Scholes’ strike was one of those moments. The atmosphere was amazing that night and for a legend like Scholes to score the winner was fantastic. From a personal perspective I’d have to say the first time I met Rooney was amazing. I met him and Rio outside the dressing room after a game at Old Trafford and it was funny because being such a big admirer of his made me really nervous, but he was also a bit nervous because he was a fan of Lost. One of the biggest thrills I’ve ever got as a United fan was when I first watched Ryan Giggs’ ‘True Red’ DVD. During it he’s interviewed the night before the Champions League final in Moscow in his hotel room and in the background on his bedside table is the Lost DVD I’d given him a month earlier. It was really cool to think he was preparing for the final by watching the show – in my eyes I got him prepared for that game!
You spent some time following Ryan and co on pre-season tour last year – how was that experience?
It was just fantastic to be on the ‘inside’ if you like and see how they prepare for the season, how they relax and how everyone mixes together. The whole experience of seeing the team you love and admire so much and being that close to it all was the most exciting thing for me.
And United’s popularity in the States seems to be growing by the year?
Absolutely. I’ve been living in America for ten years now and I’ve seen football really explode in the last few years. It’s English football which really gets the major headlines and that invariably means United are pretty much always on the radar. Most people who know something about football know who Wayne Rooney is whereas they probably don’t know the big players at City or Chelsea because United are the team that makes the news. I saw the passion the fans have for United with my own eyes on tour – there were fans waiting outside the hotel for hours and the players got a fantastic reception wherever they went. It was great to see.
After a trophy-less season last term, are you confident of some silverware in 2012/13?
I feel really confident about the coming season. It’s the first time City have had to defend a Premier League title whereas we’ve done that many times so the pressure is on them really. We’ll bounce back – that’s what we’re good at doing and we have a manager who knows what it takes to win things and he’ll be instilling that mentality into the players as he always does. I think because of the way we lost the league last season it will galvanise the squad as well. City will be our biggest challengers again, but United know what it takes to win titles year after year and also win titles back. Hopefully this season will be another one to remember for us.