They were speaking when the English Premier League trophy landed in Nairobi on Tuesday evening in the Kenyan leg of the DHL CHAMP19NS World Tour.
“It was brilliant to have been involved in it, watching the boys win it for the 19th time last season was very special.
“I was personally involved in winning five championships and it was a great honour for me and being on the verge of winning a 20th now, it will be a great honour to know that you have been involved in the club getting to that position,” English striker Cole who sunk 93 goals in 195 appearances for United said.
He dispelled the notion that the current United squad is not up to the standards of the teams of years gone by including the Golden Age that won the Treble in 1999 that Cole was part of.
“If it’s not a good team as they say, I would like to get involved in it! They won the championship last season and got to the European Cup final and they are on the verge of winning another championship. Then, I would like to know what a bad team is?” the striker rhetorically posed.
South Africa’s Fortune who plied his trade at the Old Trafford giants for nine seasons where he netted six times in 76 appearances added manager Sir Alex Ferguson was the key ingredient of the club’s success.
“It’s just the manager, the way he wants to win everything. He makes it important for every single player to win everything. There are a few games still left in the season and everything is possible but they are in a great position and they know how to win titles.”
Both retired players said spreading the gospel of Manchester United to their fan base in Africa through the trophy tour and other initiatives was their contribution to the sustenance of its global appeal.
“It’s a great honour to be here since United have 30 million fans in the African continent and it gives them a great chance for them to celebrate this moment with the trophy with the hope that next season, it will be 20,” Fortune who landed in Kenya for his first trip explained.
Cole, who was in the country a couple of years ago, promoting another of the club’s initiatives, expressed his continued support of such programmes in Africa.
“Last time I came, I enjoyed it watching those kids playing football. It’s nice to be back to witness the continued progress of what the club can do to improve the game here.
“When we go back to England, we spread the word and I’m sure more things will come this way and to bring the trophy we worked so hard for is special.”
DHL who are United’s logistics partners through their Head of Marketing in Sub-Saharan Africa Sumesh Rahavendra said Kenya was selected among five other African countries for the trophy tour due to its large number of the club fans.
“You can definitely expect more. We are partners with Manchester United for the long run and we need to make sure we bring more of the club in Africa and also promoting more local football.
“One of the priorities we have is supporting the club and their ability to influence young people in Africa,” Rahavendra added.
The firm’s clients will get an opportunity to spend time with the trophy and the visiting former icons on Wednesday.
South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Senegal are other African nations that are part of the DHL Trophy Tour.