Diehard Man Utd fan cycled for 11 months from Mongolia to watch FA Cup semi-final

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Diehard Man Utd fan cycled for 11 months from Mongolia to watch FA Cup semi-final
Photo: @AndyMitten

One diehard fan cycled roughly 5,500 miles to watch his beloved Manchester United beat Coventry City on penalties and reach the FA Cup final.

Ochirvaani Batbold left the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar on May 5 to make the 5,730-mile journey to Old Trafford.

The avid supporter made his way through China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France before reaching England.

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Batbold spent 11 months making the trip and arrived in London in time to watch his first-ever live United game.

Speaking to The National before the game on Sunday, Batbold said:

I love football. When I was a teenager, I started to play football. Also, I started to dream about playing for Manchester United.

I played football for 10 years. The first two years of my career started very successfully and I played in the top league in Mongolia, but in the next three years I suffered a lot of injuries and depression. I just tried to play football for another five years.

For me, United is about dramatic comebacks, The Theatre of Dreams, great players, Sir Alex Ferguson, a great story and a never-give-up mentality.

So, I started looking for another way to make my dream come true. But I didn't want it to be easy. I wanted to do something that inspires others a lot. So for two years I made a road plan and prepared my body.

The decision to travel by bike was only made two weeks before the trip. I knew I was going to make a trip and long considered running, but for me to do that I needed a team, a lot of money and a car. So I changed my plans and decided to cycle.

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The Mongolian nomadic lifestyle and the local climatic conditions gave rise to specific methods of preserving meat.

I would eat lunch at a cafe but I also carried Borts, an air-dried meat cut into long strips which were hung in the shade. So when I only have water and salt I can cook and eat.

I tried to cycle for three days and then take a day off. But sometimes I went without a break for seven days.

I went through many difficult days and had around 40 punctures. But I was usually very happy at every moment of my trip because I knew I was getting closer to my goal every day, step by step.

United were forced to endure extra time after Coventry came from three goals down to draw 3-3 and make it to penalties.

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Needless to say it was an eventful - albeit exhausting - first experience watching United in person.

It was incredibly stressful for me because I was hoping to see United win in my first match.

When we conceded the goal in the last minute, I thought it was over. But fortunately it was offside. Finally we won on penalties.

The game encapsulated all the emotions of football. It was an amazing experience for me.

Batbold will now cycle from London to Manchester via Leicester and Derby to complete his gargantuan journey and reach Old Trafford in time for the Premier League game against Burnley next Saturday.

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