24-year-old Ben Valdez-Hempel was just a casual football fan for most of his life, but in 2014, that all changed.
The youngster, who hails from Washington DC, went to see City in action during our International Champions Cup pre-season tournament six years ago and has been a massive fan of the club ever since!
“I started supporting Manchester City in 2014, when they came to Minneapolis for an ICC tournament game against Olympiakos at TCF Bank Stadium,” he reveals. “I have been a soccer fan my entire life, but never really had a team that I supported passionately.
“I had no clue I was going to leave that stadium being a diehard City fan.
“I still remember that day like it was yesterday,” Ben recalls. “It was a beautiful summer day in Minnesota. I had a great seat near the corner flag about 10 rows up. I remember being surrounded by City fans in that section. It felt like I had been transported to the Etihad.
“This is the reason I became a City supporter, the fans! I know that City had just won the league, and that 93:20 was also still fresh in everyone's mind, but that was not why I left the stadium that day being a City fan.
"That was simply the cherry on top! Being surrounded by fans (both English and American), I could see their passion for the team.
“I had this sensation come over me that day, where I thought ‘This is it, this is the team, this is MY team!’ I have not looked back since.”
Ben, who lives approximately 3,500 miles away from City’s Etihad Stadium, still has a deep passion for the club and isn’t shying away from encouraging others to support Pep Guardiola’s side.
“My 15 year old brother is a City fan because of me! I encourage younger generations to be City fans because of the culture of the club, not its success,” he added.
“The people you meet watching City are just outstanding people. I don't know what it is, but for some reason City draws some great supporters to the club.
However, for many fans, including Ben, it is a difficult period at the moment due to the suspension of football as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic.
However he revealed he’s not letting that put him down from keeping City as the central inspirational driver in his life.
“During this time without games being played, I am a part of a City WhatsApp group chat where we discuss transfer rumors, and what the players are up to while they are also on lockdown," Ben revealed.
“It just doesn't feel the same without Manchester City competing. I can't wait for the day when they play again!”
And so say all of us!