Glauber Berti: Manchester City legend
Local hero ~ Piers Pennington remembers Glauber Berti's shortlived but fabled stay at Manchester City
I saw Glauber Berti's only game for Manchester City. His signing had been a strange one, a free transfer from Nuremberg on the day before City became the richest club in the world. It was overshadowed completely by the last-second acquisition of his fellow countryman Robinho on transfer-deadline day.
He did not sound Brazilian, more a cross between German and an upper-class twit, and apart from the information that he was a defender and had acquired a single international cap in a friendly, he was something of a mystery. Perhaps he had been recruited simply as company for Jo, Elano and the new boy in the same way City used to sign Georgians to keep Georgi Kinkladze happy.
As the season wore on, his consistent performances as a non-playing substitute began to gain him true cult status. The thread on the Blue Moon website "Top Facts About Glauber Berti" ran to 35 pages, the "facts" growing increasingly inventive and bizarre. My favourite was his ability to eat a fruit pastille without chewing it.
City fans at the time were encouraged to submit memories of the first time they had watched their team for "My First City Game", a series on the club’s website and on posters around the ground. Some wag entered a picture of Glauber with a big question mark superimposed on his face.
By the time of the last game of the season it had been revealed that Glauber’s one-year contract was not to be renewed and we assumed that he had already departed. But no, there he was in his accustomed place on the bench for the 21st and final time. The game was of no significance to either team; Felipe Caicedo scored early for City and the teams went through the motions for the next 80 minutes.
Then, as the three minutes of additional time approached, there was a sudden stirring of excitement in the crowd behind the dugout which spread rapidly round the whole stadium. Glauber had removed his training top and was ready on the touchline.
The ovation he received when he trotted onto the pitch was overwhelming, louder even than when Robinho scored on his debut, and the man himself appeared completely bewildered by it. His first touch presented Bolton with a chance that they squandered, but when he won a tackle, beat an opponent and passed successfully to a sky-blue shirt, the cheers redoubled in volume.
And then it was all over. The squad reappeared according to end of season tradition and someone, somewhere must have the shirt that Glauber tossed into the crowd. I only hope it is suitably treasured. Piers Pennington
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