Nigerian music star, Oyinkansola Aderibigbe, popularly known as Ayra Starr, in an interview with Manchester United official club magazine, Inside United, talks about her love for the club, her favourite player and more
When and why did you start supporting Manchester United?
I started supporting Manchester United because of my brothers. Their banter around football was as exciting as it often got annoying, but when you stick around long enough, it begins to rub off on you, and the initiation eventually becomes automatic.
Who was your first United hero?
I’ve had incredible moments watching Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. I love Patrice Evra’s personality as well, but much of that was after he had left the club and became very active on Instagram. I loved these players for their skilfulness, and it was just very easy to brag with my brothers when you have this calibre of player on your team.
Do you have a lucky or favourite United team shirt that you love above all others?
Hmm… it’d have to be a number five, because Rio Ferdinand was an incredible defender, but I think the bias also comes from my fondness for numerology and faith. Five typifies grace, and I think that’s a major factor for the great things that have happened in my life and career.
You’re normally extremely busy as a musical artist, but have you had a chance to watch United at Old Trafford?
I haven’t had enough time to watch matches lately because I spend so much time touring, recording or attending to brand obligations. I watched that match we lost against Liverpool, though, and it was such an embarrassing match. I had people calling to taunt me for days. Annoying people! It’s part of the game, though. There will always be losses. The important thing is to acknowledge our shortcomings and strive to do better. So I’m not mad anymore.
If you had to write a song about United, which player or event would you focus on?
I’ve already named-dropped Shinji Kagawa in my single Sability, haha! Maybe a fan anthem for Manchester United featuring other A-list musicians across various continents? That’d be quite an honour.
What are your favourite United goals you’ve seen so far?
Wayne Rooney’s flying-kick goal against Manchester City comes to mind immediately! I was very, very young when he scored that goal but the memory is so vivid. My brothers almost screamed the entire house down. I also love Alex Telles’s goal against Villarreal two seasons ago. That was beautiful! These goals present moments that make one feel incredibly proud of the club.
What is your greatest United memory as a fan?
I mean, creating music that my club finds worthy to associate with, and support – that’s big for me, and I feel very honoured.
Who are your favourite current players in the squad?
The only Sabi boy on the team, haha! [Marcel Sabitzer – Ayra describes herself as a ‘Sabi girl’ and has had some fun making the ‘Sabi’ connection with Marcel!] I’m a fan of Rashford and Sancho, too. They make me proud of the club. What’s a ‘Sabi girl’? The American equivalent to ‘sabi girl’ is baddie. ‘Sabi’ in Nigerian pidgin means ‘to know, to be informed’, someone who is good at everything. So sabi girl is like, ‘I’m the best – that girl, the ‘It’ girl.’
If availability was no obstacle, which player from world football would you bring into the current United team and why?
Kylian Mbappe. Why not? Haha!
If you had a time machine, which player or team from United’s past would you wish to see play?
Please allow me to bring back Sir Alex Ferguson. Pleeeeeaaaassseeee! Okay, okay, if it must be a player, I’ll go for David Beckham.