Huge welcome as Manchester City arrive in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 12:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Manchester City’s biggest stars were greeted by the sounds of the Beatles – as die-hard fans gave the team a grand entrance at Hong Kong International Airport on Monday morning. 

The star-studded squad looked tired from their 14-hour flight from Durban, South Africa, as they shuffled slowly into the arrival hall for the next leg of warm-ups for the upcoming Premier League season. On Wednesday, they will face local league champions South China at Barclays Asia Trophy.

The Hong Kong Manchester City Supporters Club’s unusual chant is normally reserved for farewells, not grand entrances.

Amid the camera flashes, the arrival of the former Premier League champions brought a hundred fans and children from local schools to the airport. Middle-aged men grinned with delight, as did a gaggle of primary school students draped in the team's distinctive sky blue colour.

Phil Shirley, 45, a father of three and member of the Manchester City Supporters Club, said the enthusiasm for the team runs through the family.

“We’re long-time supporters, and my father used to be on City’s books at one time, but [coming here] was a great opportunity for the kids to get access to the players,” Shirley said, who brought two of his children to meet the players. “I don’t think I could have got away with not going to the airport to be honest.”

His two children, Thomas, 13 and Erin, nine, will walk out of the players tunnel on Wednesday as mascots.

They insisted on being called “huge” City fans – and, like their father, have followed the team on screen and, on occasion, at their biggest games at Wembley, England’s prestigious national football stadium.

After City’s poor performance in South Africa on Thursday, the team will be looking to strengthen morale on and off the field with multi-million pound signings.

City assistant manager Brian Kidd confirmed that new manager Manuel Pellegrini’s mother had died on Sunday, but he was still expected to arrive in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Pellegrini had left pre-season training camp in South Africa, citing personal issues.