Though his country is known for its impressive landscapes and monasteries, Nadik looks beyond his borders for inspiration and guidance…well, for all things football at least.
Where does he look? To Old Trafford in Manchester.
“Manchester United changed my perspective of the game,” says Nadik, host of the UNITED. DELIVERED. match high in the Himalayan country of Bhutan. “After watching the Champions League match between Bayern Munich and Manchester United in 1999, I fell in love with the club.”
“Manchester United is my religion and Old Trafford is my temple.”Nadik, UNITED. DELIVERED. match host
Nadik became a true believer – and the pub he runs in Thimphu, the country’s capital, has become the heart of the Manchester United fan community. What began as an ideal location to host friends for United games has turned into a Manchester-United-themed meeting point where fans from all over Bhutan gather to watch games and talk about their beloved Red Devils.
“We have been very faithful to the club, in the high times and the low times,” he says.
It’s in the heart
Despite thousands of miles and multiple time zones separating Bhutan from the UK, Nadik says he and his fellow fans feel a deep connection to the club.
“The club is in our heart. It’s right in here,” he says, pointing to the Manchester United emblem on his jersey. “They have given us so many happy moments in our lives. So many proud moments in our lives.”
“The club is in our heart. It’s right in here.”Nadik
The community of United fans around him only reinforces that connection.
“We have a lot of hardcore Manchester United fans in Bhutan,” he says. “There are other Premiere League clubs, but they are not as popular.”
In fact, the club is so popular that Nadik’s UNITED. DELIVERED. matched attracted the country’s Minstar of Economic Affairs, His Excellency Lyonpo Lokhnath Sharma, who presided over the opening of the legacy kit.
Facebook, Twitter and other online media also help make Manchester seem closer than it really is. “We may be very far away, but with social media we always feel that we are very close to our club,” says Nadik. “It keeps us up to date every day of our lives.”
You might call Nadik a serial contestant – he follows United closely and joins in whenever he can.
“I always enter all the competitions,” he says. “This was one of them.”
“We know now that Manchester United knows about us.”Nadik
By entering for a chance to host a UNITED. DELIVERED. match, Nadik saw yet another opportunity to bring his friends together. And to get even closer to his club.
“I have so many footballer friends who follow United religiously and it would be great to be associated with the club through this match,” he wrote in his entry.
On match day he added: “I entered for the sheer interest of feeling close to Manchester United. You know, this is how close we can get! In our wildest dreams we can’t afford to reach Old Trafford. So this is the easiest way to try and be a small part of Old Trafford.”
After the match, you could tell that Nadik really did feel a step closer to Manchester.
“Being part of this tour has built our confidence more,” he said. “We know now that Manchester United knows about us. Knows that Bhutan has a fan base.”
The temple of Old Trafford
Nadik is now one step closer to something else: a chance to fulfill his wildest dreams. A chance to travel to Old Trafford for a trip of a lifetime. A chance to make a pilgrimage to what many fans – including Nadik – call their football mecca.
“I’ll go and kiss the ground there.”Nadik
“For me, Manchester United is my religion and Old Trafford is my temple. It’s the dream of every United fan throughout the world,” he says. “It’s like a mecca for us. I would be a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
Then he pauses, laughs, and adds: “I would be very thankful to be given this opportunity to go to Old Trafford. I’ll go and kiss the ground there!”
We think many more United believers around the world would do the same.