Stephen Lowry left Windsor Park on Tuesday night in possession of a memento that every Manchester United fan would treasure.
Although he made a beeline for Wayne Rooney to ask him for his shirt, Coleraine midfielder Lowry isn’t a supporter of the Red Devils.
And that means that someone in his family is going to have a new prized possession very shortly.
As Rooney joined his United team-mates for a lap of honour after they’d beaten an Irish League Select team 4-1 in front of a sell- crowd that had come to honour former Old Trafford great Harry Gregg, he did so without his shirt, as Lowry had already tucked it under his arm — hoping nobody would see.
“I don’t support Manchester United fan, but my family is full of United fans, so I will probably give it to them,” said Lowry.
“The game was still going on when I asked Ryan Giggs for his shirt when he came on, but he said he wasn’t giving it away, so the player I got closest to next was Rooney.
“I thought I’d have another go, so I asked him and he gave it to me at the end. He signed it for me later on as well.”
Lowry and his brother Philip — who plays for Linfield — were both on the Irish League team and they both came close to scoring. Stephen was denied by goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, while Jonny Evans headed Philip’s looping header off the line.
“All of my family were at the game. It was great to have them there watching myself and my brother Philip playing against Manchester United,” said Stephen.
“All that made it a very special night for us and one that I’ll never forget. I nearly scored too, which would have made it even more memorable.”
Linfield manager David Jeffrey, who was in charge of the Irish League team along with former Northern Ireland captain Martin O’Neill, admitted to being slightly in awe as Sir Alex Ferguson congratulated him on the Blues’ sixth double in seven seasons.
“I spoke to Sir Alex briefly. He is well aware of what we have been doing at Linfield and I felt very humble when he congratulated me on winning another double,” said Jeffrey.
“It was great to work alongside a man of the stature of Martin O’Neill too. He could have come across and been aloof and spent his time elsewhere, but he spoke to the players — briefly and in general — and the most important thing he did was spend time with them. They won’t forget that.”