Salford born Phil Bardsley joined Manchester United’s academy when he was 8-years-old. Before leaving Old Trafford in 2008, after 15 years, he was the only player in the first team squad who had progressed through all the levels of the academy.
A couple of years after leaving Manchester United, Bardlsey spoke of the difficulties of facing the team he supports whilst wearing the shirt of Sunderland.
“You just have to leave the scarf on the sidelines for 90 minutes,” he said. “It could be tough, but I have to look after myself and what’s best for Sunderland FC.”
Bardsley grew up spending time at the training ground watching the clubs’ legends train and still goes to watch Manchester United games with his friends.
“I lived on Littleton Road, which was right next door to the training ground,” said Bardsley. “In the summer holidays, I would spend all my time standing outside trying to get autographs. I don’t think you can watch training now, but at that time they were training just over the way so I could see who I wanted to. When I was in primary school, Schmeichel and Cantona were the big stars, while the Beckhams and Scholes were just coming through. It was amazing just to stand and watch them play. I still go to an odd game now, and if I wasn’t playing, I would go with my mates to the away games, have a laugh, that sort of thing. I went to the Rangers match with my mates and sat in the stands. Some of my mates follow United everywhere, there’s one of them, from Salford, who spends all of his wages following the club, never goes out boozing or anything like that. It’s not a bad way of spending a Saturday afternoon is it, watching United?”
None of that stops him from kissing Sunderland’s badge though. He first did it on derby day in March 2012 after a 1-1 draw with Newcastle and was seen doing it again following the goal he scored against Everton in the FA Cup.