We’ve all got our Football Manager stories that we use to bore our mates at the pub.
We are all egotists at heart, after all, and we’re more inclined to share the success stories rather than that time you got sacked by Sunderland after three years, no trophies and a dispiriting fight against relegation.
But how much do we really care about our fictional cohorts. Would we, for example, travel thousands of miles just to watch the real-life equivalent of the team we managed on the game?
Well, one man did just that.
Huang Wenbin, a Liverpool fan who lives in China, decided to take charge of Runcorn F.C. Halton on the 2001/02 version of the game (one of the best, we might add), back when it was still known as Championship Manager.
At the time, the club was playing in the Northern Premier Division, but by the time Huang was done with his save he had led the club to the Premier League, signing stars such as David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
And he developed such an attachment that – when he visited England to watch Steven Gerrard’s last Liverpool game at Anfield – he decided to stop off at the home of his fictional charges.
He returned this year with his family to pay the club a proper visit. Well, he would have done if the club still existed - it folded in 2006 - but he found an alternative.
Huang instead visited Runcorn Linnets F.C., the phoenix club which came into being in 2006 and currently plays in the ninth tier of the English football pyramid.
He spoke highly of club chairman Mark Buckley, who he described as “such an easy going person”.
“He brought us a box of club souvenirs, such as a badge which my son wore on his clothes immediately,” Huang told the paper.
“My son wanted to kick a ball on the pitch. Mark was so kind to let him do that and my son enjoyed himself to the full.”
“It’s such a different culture and it is so far away. I don’t think he realised that we were as glad to see him as he was glad to see us,” said Buckley, who is aiming to send a replica shirt out to China.
“He has already emailed me umpteen photos and his thoughts from the day, so I think I’ve found myself a pen pal for life, which is brilliant and I’m looking forward to keeping in touch.”