An afternoon with Gulf Oil and Manchester United

When it comes to legendary football clubs and companies, Gulf Oil and Manchester United are among the greatest, ever. Gulf Oil was founded in 1901 while Manchester United has been around since 1878, though it was known as the Newton Heath LYR Football Club then, and changed its name to what it is now in 1902.

The two legendary companies came together to form a partnership in 2016, with Gulf Oil being Manchester United’s first official global lubricant oil and fuel retail partner. The three year partnership, which is also the first of its kind for a Premier League club, will enable Gulf Oil International, now a Hinduja Group company, to engage with Manchester United’s worldwide legion of fans, including its 325 million followers in Asia.

And that is precisely what happened recently when Gulf Oil hosted three Manchester United legends in Kuala Lumpur for one of the most anticipated games of the season – the Manchester United vs Liverpool clash which took place on the 10th of March.

The three united legends – Denis Irwin, David May and Dwight Yorke – flew into KL to watch the match with their fans at Berjaya Times Square. But two days before the match, Motor Trader was given about 10 minutes to sit down with Denis Irwin and David May at the Mandarin Oriental hotel for a quick question and answer session.

But before that, I must say that the excitement of meeting these legends was real, much more exciting than test driving cars or motorcycles. Maybe I am exaggerating, but Denis Irwin and Dwight Yorke were the guys who played in that historic Champions League final showdown back in 1999 in Camp Nou, Barcelona. United were trailing Bayern Munich by a single goal throughout the game, and then in the final closing minutes of injury time, United’s Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer put two past Bayern’s keeper, the mighty Oliver Kahn. It left this writer, who was just 17 then, literally jumping with joy on his bed at 230am with his cousins. It is a night a United fan will never forget, so this interview was particularly special, so special thanks goes out to Gulf Oil for making it happen.

The following is an excerpt from the session:

To Denis Irwin:
What do you think of today’s defenders as compared to those of your era?

“Well the game has changed, in relation to full-backs, I think if you look at our two full-backs probably you have to be ready to attack more these days as compared to our time. Even though we were also attacking a lot then, it is even more important now. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is footballers of my era were more physical, more tougher blokes. The game has moved over 20 years, it has got quicker.”

To David May:
If you could choose one Manchester United player of your era to play in today’s team, who would it be?

I would like to see Eric (Cantona) in today’s football, that would be very special. He has the flair, he has the ability to open defences, I think Eric would fit in really good in today’s football.

For both:
What do you think the similarities are between Manchester United and Gulf Oil?

“Both are historic brands, our club has fantastic traditions and history, as does Gulf in the oil and motorsport industry. Porsche needed endurance and they got it with Gulf. Both are also great at adapting to the markets, both have similar traits.”

Dwight Yorke was initially supposed to join the session, but flew in a day later instead, however, he was gracious to answer the question we posed to him via email:

To Dwight Yorke:
How do you think you would fit into the current Manchester United first team?

“I think my style of play would fit into the current Manchester United squad as I am a team player and I would relish the chance to play with some of the talent we have in the squad today. We are still a fairly new team with new players finding their style as well as getting to learn about each other, which is an important part of playing football. We have seen some elements of great play, but there is still room for improvement here and there.”

Gulf Oil, besides being a historic brand, is extremely popular among car and motorcycle culture for its association with Porsche, specifically the Porsche 917 which gave the car maker its first Le Mans in 1970 and 1971. The brand is also associated with other giants of motorsport such as Mclaren and the F1 GTR, Ford’s GT40, Audi with its R8, and various Aston Martin’s including a open cockpit LMP1 race car.

To truly understand how far along Gulf Oil has come, this video from 2014 does a great job at detailing the company’s journey from the beginning:

Gulf Oil’s Asean operations are based in Singapore, and is represented in Malaysia by KA Petra Sdn Bhd.

[Keshy Dhillon]