What's it like to score in a derby?
- 16 March 2016 14:53
- Posted by @dclayton_mcfc
Every goal is special for any player, but imagine scoring on your debut in a Manchester derby and it turns out to be a winner?
That’s what happened to Benjani in 2008 as City beat United 2-1 at Old Trafford to record a first victory at the Reds’ ground for more than three decades.
We caught up with Benjani to discover his memories of that day…
The derby wasn’t meant to be your debut was it?
“No it wasn’t, I was meant to play against Aston Villa a week earlier but because there were paperwork complications after I signed from Portsmouth on transfer deadline day my first game was delayed to the United match.”
What do you recall of the day?
“I remember it was the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster and how emotional Old Trafford was that day. Both sets of supporters came together that day and it was a privilege to be part of the occasion. I didn’t realise we hadn’t won there for 34 years, though!”
Tell us about your goal…
“I recall playing part of the build-up to Darius Vassell putting us in front and we were just focused on getting to half-time in front. Then, I think we played nearly 45 minutes and Martin Petrov picked up the ball on the right and whipped in a cross. I didn’t get much of a touch, it just brushed my hair and flew into the opposite corner to make it 2-0.”
You seemed to enjoy the moment…
“Yes I did! I ran over to where the City fans were going crazy and did my celebration and just soaked it all in. We went in for the break and suddenly realised we were two goals in front at Old Trafford against a team going for the title.
"United were on fire at the time and had a fantastic team so we knew they would come at us in the second-half. We wanted the game to be over there and then! They did pull one back but we hung on to win 2-1.
"It was only afterwards that somebody told me we hadn’t won there for 34 years so I was happy to be able to help end that run.”
Was that the debut you dreamed of?
“Pretty close. Obviously if you start off like that you strike up an instant bond with the supporters and the City fans were always great with me. I always say that if the fans are happy, everybody is happy!”
How do you see this derby going?
“It will be close and I think it’s fair to say neither City nor United are where they want to be at the moment. Right now we need to concentrate on finishing in the top four and make sure we win this game. After that, we will have to wait and see because it will be hard to catch the leaders but in football anything is possible. Wherever I am in the world, I support City and I’m just a fan these days so I’ll be wishing them good luck on Sunday and for the rest of the season.”