In August Neil Danns stood outside Gigg Lane, umbrella in his hand, and not only encouraged the throbbing rain, but whatever questions the Bury supporters had for the captain of their club about its future.
The answers came to the fore of what they had all been afraid of, with the Shakers expelled from the Football League days later. Danns knew, just like everyone else, from the players to the kitman, that he would have to look for another job.
& # 39; I honestly didn't do it & # 39; Don't think it would ever happen, "he told Sportsmail . & # 39; But if you play the game for so long, you'll learn that you never know. Things are changing for better or worse and luckily for me it has changed in a good way. & # 39;
Danns knows he was one of the lucky ones. He is now 37, more than 12 years since he last appeared in the Premier League for Birmingham in a career that has brought him to Crystal Palace, Bolton and Leicester City.
He was on his way to international service at Guyana when he received a call from Tranmere asking if he would like to meet manager Micky Mellon.
& I was immediately enthusiastic & # 39 ;, says Danns. & # 39; As a Merseyside boy, I had always grown up with a view to Tranmere, one of the local clubs. I always felt that I would end up there someday. & # 39;
Danns has 19 appearances for Rovers this season, the last time when Tranmere eliminated the Premier League-side Watford in their re-arranged repeat in Prenton Park, rescheduled for a field full of water, 3- 0 came to take a draw in the first meeting.
United comes to town on Sunday and the opportunity is up. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under increasing pressure, the United fans have engaged the owners. Has there ever been a better time to cope with them, especially on Tranmere & # 39; s own pitch? Solskjaer has told his players to expect divots.
& # 39; Everyone buzzes & # 39 ;, says Danns. & # 39; You can already feel the excitement. It is such a huge game and we are really looking forward to it. & # 39;
& Everyone who participates in the game and does not believe we have a chance has the wrong attitude. We are realistic, we know that it is a big question.
& # 39; Regardless of whether they are struggling, they have talent. They only struggle by their standard. We cannot precede ourselves.
& # 39; They are still fifth in the Premier League, which is no easy feat. Struggling for Manchester United is different than struggling for a lower division. & # 39;
Tranmere wrestles herself, in the relegation zone of League One that has achieved successive promotions, but Danns believes the FA Cup has given the club the belief that it can & # 39; really try & # 39; in the second half of the season – and there is still the belief that the Cup trip can continue.
& # 39; We know that in one-off games anything can happen. You must have that faith. But we also have to enjoy, especially when you think where the club comes from. & # 39;
There is also a personal side to the band for Danns. As a lifelong fan of Liverpool, where his son Jayden is also part of the academy, it is always nice to beat United. But above all, he knows that the time he has left on the field, at 37, will not last forever.
Danns loves his music and has studied audio engineering and production at a school in Manchester for the past three years. He is passionate about writing songs and will continue his career as soon as he withdraws from football. He also plans to release a charity issue with his eight-year-old daughter Hayla-Essen to raise money for underprivileged children.
& # 39; For my own football career, I am standing on that slope where I have not yet been for many years & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; I will record it year after year and at the moment I play regularly and perform decent performances.
& # 39; But I have the opportunity to play live on television against Manchester United in the FA Cup at the age of 37. I have to enjoy it. I will soak every moment. & # 39;
Standing on the banks of the Secchia River, a short drive from Modena in the Emilia Romagna region, with a population of just over 40,000, Sassuolo was never meant to be known for its sporting heritage.
That was until the intervention of industrial Giorgio Squinzi.
Club owner and president died 76 years last month, leading to Sassuolo weekend collision in Brescia being postponed and each Series A side holding a minute's silence in tribute.
FIGC President Gabriele Gravina paid tribute e to the magnate of chemical building materials. He said: "All Italian football joins the condolences of the family for the death of Giorgio Squinzi.
" The many sincere messages inspired by his memory … they testify how the Sassuolo patron was appreciated and respected for his human qualities even more than his professional abilities. & # 39;
There were endless taxes all over Italian football, while UEFA once chose Sassuolo as a model club for progression and Squinzi for its successful ownership.
During a colorful 17 years at the helm, he took Sassuolo from the Series C2 to the Series A, transformed the fortune of a city and earned legendary status on a journey that was not without much success and controversy.
Sassuolo fan Fracesco Morini told Sportsmail: & # 39; He invested a lot in the team without expecting anything: he just loved soccer in its pure form. He will be very well remembered by fans. & # 39;
Squinzi was also sure to enjoy all the moments that the success brought him and his club.
Sboyzi, an AC Milan fan, joined a bet with his friend Remo Morini, prior to the first ever Inter Milan meeting with rivals in 2013 in the team.
Should Sassuolo win from the unlikely and the, Morini Squinzi would give a trophy.
Since that first Series A competition in 2013, Sassuolo has defeated Inter Milan seven times and seven trophies now adorn Squinzi's office.
In a gripping turn, Sassuolo & # 39; s first match after the death of Squinzi is against Inter Milan.
Squinzi was initially better known for his investment in bicycles, running the highly successful professional team from Mapei until 2002, when his attention focused on football.
Before Squinzi took the lead, UC Sassuolo Calcio, founded in 1920, had spent much of its existence in regional competitions before finally taking off to the Series D in 1968.
The first taste of Serie C2 football came in 1984, but six years later they were relegated again before climbing back in 1998.
The arrival of Squinzi four years later did not bring immediate success.
Only in 2006 did they earn a first promotion, via the play-offs, to begin the long climb of the competitions.
Squinzi and his advisors had a keen eye for emerging managers – during a season at Sassuolo in 2007-08, future five-time Scudetto winner Massimiliano Allegri led the club for the first time to an unlikely Series C1 triumph and to Series B.
After a difficult period of struggling with Lecce, Eusebio Di Francesco would get a second chance in 2012 from Squinzi in the B series.
Need a win against Livorno to promotion to seal on the last day of the season, Simone Missiroli has fueled pandemonium and made for the very first time for Serie A football with a last-minute winner
Squinzi showed all sides of his character in 2014 and Eusebio plundered shortly after a series of defeats.
The owner, however, failed to lure Filipo Inzhagi to the club and turned to Alberto Malesani. He managed five games and no wins before he left and cam di Francesco back.
After securing survival with a 17th place, Di Francesco was not ready there and helped the club to 12th and in 2016 a sixth place that its side saw Europa League football for the first time ever.
Fittingly, they announced themselves with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao – the culmination of a group-stage exit.
All this was underpinned by smart investments and trust in native Italians, even at the highest level.
Matteo Politano was signed in 2015 and now plays for Inter Milan and the Italian national side. Sime Vrsaljko is now on Inter Milan via Atletico Madrid
The crown jewel is of course Domenico Berardi. At the club since the age of 16, he made his 18-year debut in the Series B promotion-winning season. After declining interest from Juventus, he has five senior caps in Italy and 234 club performances out of 25, the second highest in Sassuolo's history.
The highest, with 439, is Francesco Magnanelli, the last remaining veteran of any promotion under Squinzi. Now 34 and in his 13th season with the club, Magnanelli played in each division plus the Europa League.
In Sassuolo & # 39; s match day program before being confronted with Inter Milan, Magnanelli paid tribute to the president: & # 39; a forward-looking president, the president who looked beyond the single game and attempted the swing to build something bigger and it lasted for a long time. & # 39;
Squinzi bought the club ahead and bought the rights of the Citta del Tricolore Stadium with 21,584 capacity in Reggio Emilia – rename the Mapei Stadium – in an auction in 2013 and Sassuolo moved there.
Squinzi made sure that his club was the first of three in Serie A – alongside Juventus and Udinese – who had their own stadium, even if it was outside the city limits of Sassuolo.
However, the small but vocal Nord Curve ultrasound of the club did not like that, which at the time said: & # 39; How often have we reconfirmed our sense of belonging and love for our city and how important it is? is to constantly make us feel like guests; but unfortunately economic interests have prevailed over the passion and attachment to our colors … Once again we do not belong in this stadium. & # 39;
Squinzi, however, continued and the club introduced an innovative approach to ticketing, with 23 executive boxes available, which helped the club generate consistent matchday revenue.
That was his sense of philanthropy that he allowed local side and previous owners Reggiana – a former Series A side that went bankrupt and reformed into Series C in 2018 – to play there.
However, fans have deep affection for Squinzi.
Morini said: & Sassuolo saw the chance of creating a really good team, also for young players.
"This is the main reason that everyone loved him, because for him football was first and foremost entertainment and sport, things always came last."
Despite minor dissatisfaction, such a foresight and prudence was a feature of the protection of Squinzi. . A sponsorship agreement of € 22 million with his own company Mapei – the most lucrative in Series A – ensured that the club had the means to compete at the highest level.
When promotion to Series A was sealed in 2013, Squinzi was quick to deliver the necessary upgrades – new scoreboards, new grass and refurbished seats were introduced to ensure that the club met their new environment.
In an era of unpredictable owners leading to ruin in the pursuit of glory, Squinzi stands almost alone as a president who has brought unprecedented success and stability to a true minnow.
His side now has a last chance to say a suitable goodbye.
Callum Hudson-Odoi laughs at England's training session on Sunday morning Hudson-Odoi (left) replaced Raheem Sterling (center) in the 70th minute on Wembley "class =" blkBorder " img img img img
Hudson-Odoi (left) Replaced Raheem Sterling (center) in the 70th minute at Wembley "
Hudson-Odoi (left) replaced Raheem Sterling (center) in the 70th minute in Wembley
Gareth told me to express myself, & Hudson-Odoi said. & # 39; He said: & # 39; Just be how you are in your club. Go and do what you do. "So when I was about to eat, I thought," You know what, it makes no sense to be nervous or shy. Do what you normally do and be confident. "
& # 39; That's what I did and tried to do. It hasn't sunk yet. I still think I'm dreaming, that's not real, but I'm really happy.
What Hudson-Odoi showed in his cameo against the Czech Republic was enough to make you realize that his first cap will be the first of many. He is fearless and full of talent and it is easy to understand why Bayern Munich in January made four bids for him, the last was £ 35 million.
The 18-year-old winger says the experience of making his debut still feels like a dream
His run and shot led the Czech defender ger Tomas Kalas to push through his own net and complete the 5-0 roule, his natural tendency to attack and be brave.
& # 39; It was really open, one-to-one situation, I just thought I'd go ahead and I got the chance & # 39 ;, Hudson – said Odoi. 1945
It completed a remarkable week for Hudson-Odoi, one that began with a dash from Bristol to St George's Park after I was recalled by the Under 21s. His increase to the seniors will be temporary, but he is expected to go to the Under 21 European Championship this summer.
Hudson-Odoi (right) celebrates with his teammates after the victory on Friday night
Given what he experienced at Wembley, going back to level can be difficult, but he believes in the path that his career takes.
& # 39; I always have the same mentality regardless of the age group, 18s, 21s or the first team, & Hudson-Odoi said.
& # 39; I am not going to change because I have had one game with the first team. I will still be the same and work hard as always. I will remain confident and stay myself. Of course I am always excited to play, but sometimes you have to be patient and wait for your chance. Hopefully there will be many more. & # 39;
With his attitude and talent, this is practically guaranteed.