"We spent over 24 hours to arrive in Liverpool from Xiamen in China."
A Chinese football fan travelled 12,000 miles to visit Runcorn FC after being successful with the team on the video game Football Manager.
The Independent reports that Huang Wenbin travelled with his family from Xiamen to Millbank Linnets Stadium to visit the home ground of Runcorn Linnets.
Wenbin’s love for the club began when playing Championship Manager 01/02, when he led Runcorn FC Halton to the top of the league.
Signing football stars such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Roberto Carlos and Edgar Davids for Runcorn, Wenbin won the English Premiership, the Uefa Cup and the European Super Cup.
“The first time I made the decision to find Runcorn FC was in 2015,” Wenbin said in an interview with Mirror Football.
Wenbin, who is actually a Liverpool fan explained that he visited Anfield to see Steven Gerrard but wanted to return to visit Runcorn.
“I went to Liverpool by train to watch Steven Gerrard’s last match at Anfield,” Wenbin said. “When the train was parking, I saw a sign for Runcorn. I told my friend I will be there again to find my club.”
However, his journey was not an easy one. Travelling with his young family, Wenbin struggled to even find the club.
“We all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that someone was waiting for us in front of the stadium. We spent over 24 hours to arrive in Liverpool from Xiamen in China,” he said.
“We missed the bus station and got lost on the road in the countryside near Runcorn Linnets. We spent three hours trying to find the club. It must be my false for my poor English speaking and listening.”
Nonetheless, Runcorn club chairman Mark Buckley gave the Huang family a tour of the ground, letting Wenbin’s son a kick-about on the field.
“It was quite humbling, because he was such an honest and polite man. I really, really enjoyed it personally,” Buckley said. “It was a fabulous few hours.”
“He has already emailed me umpteen photos and his thoughts from the day, so I think I’ve found myself a pen pal for life, which is brilliant and I’m looking forward to keeping in touch. He’s a thoroughly decent bloke.”
Liverpool Echo reports that Wenbin’s wife, Xiarou, was thankful for the club’s warm welcome. “[Xiarou] possibly didn’t know what to expect,” Buckley said, “so when he got a warm welcome I think she was probably quite relieved!
“I don’t think he realised that he was quite big news. He seemed quite astonished that we were happy to see him. We have a Swedish fans group and a Norwegian fans group, but China is a little bit special.”
“It’s such a different culture and it is so far away. I don’t think he realised that we were as glad to see him as he was glad to see us.”
IYKWIM：By the fans，For the fans… pic.twitter.com/xWKL1JwGg7
— wenbin (@huangandersson) October 15, 2017