Dubai: Lifelong Manchester City fan in Lebanon gearing up for cup final clash after starring in social media video
Lebanese Manchester City superfan Malek Tabbal has become a social media star after appearing in a video telling his story — and he is hoping this Sunday the club will win the first trophy of the season when they take on Aston Villa in the League Cup Final at Wembley.
Tabbal has been supporting Manchester City for over 30 years, and recently starred in a social media video which detailed his love for the club, and showed him on a visit to the Etihad Stadium where he was able to meet some of the players.
Pep Guardiola’s side will be aiming to win the League Cup for the third consecutive year when they face Aston Villa and Tabbal, founder of the official Manchester City Supporters’ Club in Lebanon, will be glued to his TV as he cheers on the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and the rest of the side.
“Under normal circumstances I would have gone to Wembley to see the final but unfortunately on this occasion I’m not able to, so I will hopefully gather with the Man City Supporters’ Club in Lebanon,” Tabbal said.
“The League Cup means a lot to me because back in 2014 I took my son to watch the final between Man City and Sunderland, which we won 3-1. It was a day I will always remember because my son was only eight years old and that was the first time he’d ever been to a game.
“It’s always been important to City fans. The flashback in our minds was always the 1976 final, when Dennis Tueart scored an overhead kick, so for us it’s a great trophy, and in recent years we’ve done really well in the competition.”
Having had to watch City on his own for many years, Tabbal decided to set up Lebanon’s official Manchester City Supporters’ Club in order to watch matches alongside like-minded fans.
He now enjoys the buzz of cheering the team on from afar with his fellow supporters.
“Typically, we send an announcement out on social media that there will be a gathering of City fans for a game, and there are normally 20-25 supporters who turn up to watch together,” he said.
“For many years, supporting City was quite a lonely experience, so now to see so many young fans in Lebanon interested in the club means so much to me.
“We used to go to a place called the Lavender in Beirut, but as numbers increased we needed somewhere a bit more spacious, so now we go to a different bar. It’s not like a typical Irish pub, a lot of people don’t drink, so it’s a bit different.”
City’s success in recent years, and the quality of players on show, has made watching the team hugely enjoyable for Tabbal.
“The actual feeling of supporting City hasn’t changed much, but what has changed is the level of expectation, and the feeling you’re above the clouds when City win trophies and play incredible football. It’s a dream come true.”
He is hoping for another trophy to be added to the collection on Sunday.
“It’s a bigger game for Aston Villa than us as they haven’t been to a cup final for a while, so I don’t think it will be easy at all.
“Even though I’m excited, I’m also quite tense, as I would be for a game against one of our traditional rivals such as Liverpool or Man United, but hopefully our quality will shine through and we will get our hands on the trophy again.”