David Buchanan will be taking to his very own field of dreams when he leads the Cobblers out against his beloved Manchester United at Sixfields on Wednesday night (ko 7.45pm).
A lifelong Red Devils fan, Buchanan grew up in his hometown of Rochdale idolising the likes of Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, the 30-year-old has never had the pleasure of playing against them, despite a career stretching back 11 years and more than 400 senior games.
I used to go to the games at United when I could, as they were my team when I was growing up. I used to idolise the likes of Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, and it was a golden era for people my age, as Manchester United won everything. This is a massive part of my careerCobblers defender David Buchanan
The closest he has come was when he was a Preston North End player, but the left-back didn’t make the squad for an FA Cup clash at Deepdale in February, 2015, sitting in the stands as his team-mates slipped to a 3-1 defeat.
So Buchanan has had to be patient to come face to face with his boyhood team, and he intends to make the most of the occasion.
“Come Wednesday, hopefully I am starting, because I am really, really looking forward to it,” said Buchanan, who will be making his 66th consecutive start for Northampton, and is set to skipper the side with club captain Marc Richards likely to start on the bench.
“I used to go to the games at United when I could, as they were my team when I was growing up.
“I used to idolise the likes of Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, and it was a golden era for people my age, as Manchester United won everything.
“This is a massive part of my career.
“I am 30-years-old and this is the first chance I’ll have had to step out on the pitch in front of the team I support.”
The draw for the United game was made more than three weeks ago, and it has been a long time for Buchanan and his team-mates to keep the occasion tucked away in the back of their minds as they concentrated on league one matters.
Manager Rob Page went as far as banning all talk about the Manchester United game until after Saturday’s match at Chesterfield, but now Buchanan can focus on what is going to be a special night.
“The build up is massive, and now we have Saturday out of the way the players are talking about it, and who they are going to play against, and what sort of team United will put out,” said Buchanan.
“They have lost three on the trot and that makes the game even bigger.
“Everybody is excited, and you are going to be as you are testing yourself against some of the best players in the world, and one the biggest clubs in the world.
“It is a dream come true for every player because you might only get one chance through your career to play in these sort of matches, so it is something I am really looking forward to.”
United have last their past three games, going down to a surprise 3-1 defeat at Watford on Sunday, and Buchanan is hoping to give them another difficult night at a sold-sout Sixfields.
“I watched the game on Sunday, but the Premier league our style of play is a lot different,” said the Cobblers left-back.
“I am sure Manchester United will have done their homework, and they know they can expect the crowd at Sixfields to be right behind us.
“It is going to be a tight pitch for them and we are going to just get behind the ball and make it hard for them, and try and do to them what we did to West Brom, because I think we took them by surprise.
“I am sure if anybody from Manchester United has spoken to the West Brom staff or players, they will tell them that we are a decent team.”
There will be plenty of support from the stands and from afar for Buchanan tonight, as he has revealed many of his family are supporters of United’s bitter rivals Liverpool, but he also has plenty of close friends who are United fanatics.
He admits their loyalties will be split, as they will want their pal to do well, but they definitely won’t want United humbled at Sixfields.
They will be proud of their friend though, and also jealous that he will be sharing the pitch with some Old Trafford star names, players they idolise from the stands every week.
So which player does Buchanan hope more than any other is included in the Red Devils starting line-up?
“I don’t know who I’m going to be up against, but over the years Wayne Rooney has been a massive figure in English football,” said Buchanan.
“He is the captain of the country and has broken so many records.
“I look at him and see him as a idol in the game, and as a special person who has achieved a phenomenal amount in his career.
“He has played from the age of 16 to now at the top level, and has broken all sorts of records at one of the biggest clubs in the world, so I have the utmost respect for him.”
And as he is Manchester United captain, if he does play then Buchanan is likely to get to shake hands with him in the centre circle before the match for the coin toss.
That would definitely be a picture that will take pride of place on the Cobblers man’s mantlepiece.