There’s one person who’s always welcome at the Etihad Stadium, the impressive home of the current Premier League leaders Manchester City – and he’s never even stepped foot on the pitch in a playing capacity.
Yes, one of Manchester’s favourite sons, Noel Gallagher, always gets a warm reception at the Etihad, with his fervent support of his local team dating back to when he and his brothers Paul and Liam (you may have heard of the latter) started following City during their childhood thanks to their father, Thomas.
Of course, City didn’t always used to be as good as they under their current manager, Pep Guardiola. Prior to be being purchased by a private UAE company in 2008, City fans rarely tasted major success in following their team, spending countless seasons in the lower divisions and playing second fiddle to their fierce city rivals Manchester United for many years.
Investment from the Abu Dhabi Group catapulted City to the top of the English football tree, however, with the team sensationally winning their first major league honour in 44 years as they clinched the Premier League title in the dying seconds of the 2011-12 season – right from under the noses of United, of course.
Noel knows the rollercoaster Manchester City story all too well, and he’s certainly enjoying City’s seemingly unstoppable charge to their fifth league title this season. And with Noel now even finding time to be a Sky Sports pundit on all things City, what better time could there be to do a deep dive into his love of both his beloved City and the beautiful game.
1He wasn't always in the posh seats...
Noel has recalled that his love of City began when his dad took his sons to City's old ground, Maine Road - a decision Noel can only attribute to "some bizarre, psychedelic reason".
“By rights we should all be United fans because all my dad’s brothers and our cousins are United fans. It’s only myself, Liam and our brother Paul who are City fans," he told FourFourTwo in 2003. "The rest of my family – there must be about 6,000 of them – all support United. My dad moved from Dublin to Manchester and went to Maine Road. I’m glad he took us to City, though."
2A fan of "cosmic football"
Superlatives are part and parcel of the hype around football, but even City's performances are bleeding the thesauruses dry at the moment.
Noel had a go at summing up the current City side back in November, lauding the "very special" team's brand of "cosmic football". Not bad, eh?
3In good Kompany
Here's Noel sharing a friendly embrace with the City club captain, Vincent Kompany - who he no doubt counts among his closest friends, given the number of City games he's seen since Kompany joined the club in 2008.
Noel's favourite City players include Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and David Silva, with Noel reserving particular acclaim for Silva - he told the Men In Blazers podcast back in 2015 that he'd let the Spanish midfielder "have sex with my wife".
5A Barcelona/Manchester bromance
Noel's admiration of Pep Guardiola knows no bounds, and his 20-minute sit-down interview with the City manager from the start of last season is certainly worth a watch.
Asked back in November for his verdict on the job Guardiola is doing at the moment, Noel simply proclaimed: “Pep Guardiola’s a fucking Messiah!"
As well as a ton of City players past and present, Noel is also good friends with former Italian forward Alessandro Del Piero.
Get ready for another anecdote, folks - Noel reckons that, after Del Piero scored in the 2006 World Cup semi-final, he ran towards where the guitarist was sitting.
"I was sat beside [Del Piero's] wife. His wife reckons he was coming over to blow kisses at her, but what's actually happened is he's seen me and his wife happened to be there. He then gets it in his head that I'm his lucky mascot, so he said: 'You'll have to come to the final'. He made me wear the same clothes."
And guess who won the final? Del Piero's Italy.
Noel went out to Ukraine in 2012 to support England at the Euros - and just so happened to share one box with the Soccer Saturday legend himself, Chris Kamara.
10Noel the pundit
Noel was recently invited by Sky Sports to serve as a pundit for the Manchester United v Manchester City fixture - an opportunity he unsurprisingly snatched with both hands.
His first official punditing stint drew a mixed response from football fans, but many still enjoyed his friendly on-air jousts with the former United defender Gary Neville.
Speaking of which, Noel once signed a guitar for Neville with the friendly message: "Dear Gary, How many caps have you won for England? How many do you think you deserved?? I'll tell you: Fuckin' none!"
11Taking on Jose
Noel has even managed to get under the skin of the Manchester United manager this season. Mourinho appeared to aim a sly dig at Gallagher in a recent press conference after he sarcastically called Noel the "king of rock and roll" - you're not riled by your City rivals at all, are you Jose?
12This isn't the only thing Pep will lift this season
With City a certain bet to win the Premier League this season, it wouldn't be surprising to see Noel on the pitch during the title celebrations in May at some point - maybe City will let him lift the trophy, too?