Mens Team

How I became a City fan: Malek Tabbal

How I became a City fan: Malek Tabbal
Manchester City’s global influence and reach has further expanded in recent seasons after the club’s incredible success on and off the pitch, but 42 years ago City had a superfan thousands of miles away.

Malek Tabbal, who is from Beirut, Lebanon, began supporting the Club in the summer of 1978 and has experienced our highs and lows ever since.

The physics professor and director of the Leadership Equity and Diversity initiative at the American University of Beirut, has been obsessed with the beautiful game since a young age, but some may be wondering how a youngster from Lebanon even heard about City in the first place.

“I was 13-years-old,” he reveals. “With siblings and cousins, we were obsessed with football, playing in the parking lot of our building in 1970s war-torn Beirut and watching brief highlights of European football on TV on weekends, mostly the English First Division and the FA Cup.

“We also used to listen every Saturday afternoon to live coverage of the games on the BBC World Service. The program was called Saturday Special, with host Paddy Feeny.

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"We collected Shoot! magazine and each one of us had a favorite team. All this was taking place with the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90) in the background… Soccer for us was an escape.

“We would relive all those games by playing Subbuteo and my older brother, Ali (a United fan!) would paint the players for each one of our favorite teams.

"I chose Manchester City because they had a great players with the likes of Joe Corrigan and Asa Hartford, finished fourth in the League in the 1977-78, qualified for the UEFA Cup and looked like strong candidates for the title for 1978-79 having heavily invested in the squad in the summer of 1978.

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“I also loved the light blue kit and my lovely little Subbuteo 1979 Manchester City team!”

Malek, who runs Manchester City’s Official Supporters Club in Lebanon, puts plenty of time and effort in helping promote the club in his native country.

“I am honored to be heading the Manchester City Lebanon OSC,” he admitted. “My kids, just like me, have blue blood.

“When I was young, I had always dreamed of meeting City fans (there were none in Lebanon). Now, having regular yearly trips to Manchester to watch City, I have friends who not only support City but also work at the club. I feel each City supporter can write a book about his/her love story with City.

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"The Manchester City supporters have developed over the years a certain sense of belonging, compassion and an incredible sense of humor without which we would not been able to cope with all heartache of the 80s and the 90s…It has been a lesson in life!

“Thus, no matter how well City are doing these days, I will never ever take that success for granted.

"As I watch City in the Champions League these days, I still feel the tension and palpitations of the 80s and 90s gave. Some things never change… So my advice for the young City fans across the world is to never take success for granted and to take the time to learn about the history of this club and what it really means to be a City fan."

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Malek, who lives approxiamtely 3,000 miles away from the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, is understandably finding it difficult without any Manchester City matches due to the outbreak of COVID-19 globally, but revealed that he’s using this time to watch classic matches and research more about the history of the club.

“It is hard! Very hard, considering that this is unprecedented, but putting things in perspective, the health and well-being of people comes first," he adds.

“But, now that I am taking the time to watch old City games on TV and the internet. It's amazing what one can find on the internet these days.

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"I have also revived my Subbuteo career with the City 2013 team. My son Fares is playing with me and watching those old games. Ask him about the Goat and Peter Reid!

“I keep reading parts of Gary James book, “Manchester City: the greatest city”, reviewing some aspects of City’s history that I may have forgotten about. I also tend to follow more the club as a whole, the fans and their activities.

“I miss the friends in the Manchester City Lebanon OSC and our gatherings, hoping that we will soon be back together watching and cheering CITY!!!”

To find out more about MCFC Lebanon or your local supporters club, visit - supportersclubs.mancity.com.

Join the official supporters club family today. Malek Tabbal runs the Lebanon branch of our OSC.


                        How I became a City fan: Malek Tabbal

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