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Thursday, May 27, 1999 Published at 03:19 GMT 04:19 UK


Treble joy for United fans

United fans back in Manchester danced and sang long after the final whistle

Manchester United's international army of fans are celebrating after the Red Devils won the European Cup in dramatic fashion. It caps a fantastic treble-winning season for United.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas reports on one of the greatest days in Manchester's history
United, a goal down with only 34 seconds of normal time to go, won with two very late goals and triggered wild celebrations all over the world.

United are said to be "the world's best supported club", with 180 supporters' clubs all over the globe.

United's Euro Showdown
They are also one of the wealthiest clubs in the world and shares in the Old Trafford club rose from 187p to 194 within minutes of the London stock exchange opening on Thursday.

About 45,000 United fans were in Barcelona, either inside the Nou Camp stadium or in bars nearby, to witness history in the making.

Long wait

United's only previous European Cup victory was in 1968 when Sir Matt Busby's team of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Brian Kidd - Denis Law missed the final - beat Benfica.

[ image: The celebrations in the streets of Barcelona have been noisy but peaceful]
The celebrations in the streets of Barcelona have been noisy but peaceful
For 31 years the club have sought to recapture European glory and they ironically achieved it on what would have been the late Sir Matt Busby's 90th birthday.

Bayern Munich fans stood in dejected silence as substitute Teddy Sheringham equalised Mario Basler's early goal and then, deep in injury time, fellow sub Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scrambled home the winner from another corner.

The result has landed Birmingham radio presenter Paul Franks in the stew.

Jason Mills reports: "Manchester United generates a huge interest in New York City"
The 41-year-old host of BBC Radio WM's breakfast show promised at the beginning of the season that he would do his entire show in the nude if United won the European Cup.

His bosses however have relented and agreed to allow Franks to wear his boxer shorts.

After seeing Alex Ferguson's team lift the trophy thousands of United fans poured out of the Nou Camp.

'This is the place to be'

Steve Cross from Middleton in Manchester said: "I don't want to leave here - this is just amazing really.

Manchester city councillor Pat Karney: "This will kick off 48-hour street parties in Manchester"
"That was probably our worst performance of the season. I was just hoping that we might get out of jail somehow.

"When Bayern hit the bar and the ball rebounded into Schmeichel's arms I thought it might be a turning point for us."

Ian Street, from Epsom, Surrey said: "This is just dream land. I couldn't believe it, I had to telephone home to make sure it was true.

"It's great to have been here to see United win. I just hope the fans behave themselves now because there has not been that much trouble before the game."

City of joy

The jubilation in Barcelona was mirrored by ecstatic scenes in the centre of Manchester and in pubs and homes all over the city.

John Acton, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said: "This is the best day of my life and it is unbelievable.

"This is one of the best games I have ever seen in my whole life, I just can't believe they did it."

[ image: Fans danced in the streets of Manchester after the dramatic victory]
Fans danced in the streets of Manchester after the dramatic victory
Paul Nattrass, 24, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said: "Five minutes ago I was devastated, now I am completely overjoyed, it's unbelievable.

"They are the best team in the world, people had even travelled up from London to watch Manchester United play from their home city."

One of those was Xanthos Dophotas, 22, who said: "This is the best day of my life. I moved from Salford when I was five, but not before my uncle made me love Man United."

Many neutrals won over

Donna, a Liverpool fan, tells BBC Radio Five Live's Richard Littllejohn even she has been won over by United
There were joyful scenes in many pubs around the UK where United fans, and many neutrals, clustered together to watch the match.

The delight was shared by United supporters in the United States, Africa, Australia and Asia.

The United squad is due back in the UK on Thursday and the city is preparing a tumultuous welcome.

About 250,000 people are expected to line the streets on Thursday evening as the players parade all three trophies - the FA Cup, the Premiership trophy and the European Cup - before a reception at the Manchester Evening News Arena.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who watched part of the match while attending the celebrations to mark the opening of the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, was quick to congratulate United.

Mr Blair, who saw his Newcastle United side beaten by United in Saturday's FA Cup Final, said: "The whole country, whatever team they support, is absolutely thrilled."

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