3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

The rise of the foodie footballer

PUBLISHED: 14:28 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 21:22 18 April 2016

Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, joint owners of Cafe Football

Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, joint owners of Cafe Football

Archant

What’s the score with footballers and food? United legends open the world’s first football hotel, right near their ground

Hotel Footbal, opposite Old TraffordHotel Footbal, opposite Old Trafford

2015 will see the doors open at Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs’ Hotel Football opposite Old Trafford and while it has all the trappings for fans like a soccer pitch on the roof and 40-inch TV with unlimited Sky Sports, it is offering a menu designed by creative director, two-star Michelin chef, Michael Wignall.

‘The 133 bed hotel and conference facility aims to capture that authentic football culture, with hints to the great game running throughout the menu and décor, making it the go-to destination for fans, families, business users and tourists,’ says the publicity blurb.

And that’s not bigging it up. It may be just down the road from that fixture of the Old Trafford football scene - the Lou Macari Chip Shop - but in every other sense, it’s a million miles away.

Now, instead of owning a chippy or a pub like Manchester City’s Mike Summerbee, today’s soccer stars are blazing a trail on the culinary scene.

Hotel Football banquet hallHotel Football banquet hall

Yes. Ever since Gary Neville and David Beckham rustled up a plate of pasta and tomato sauce on a ‘reality’ TV documentary some years back, soccer stars have had an influence on the north west food landscape.

The most famous in Manchester is Rosso, the uber-glam Italian part-owned by another former Manchester United player, Rio Ferdinand. This connection with business savvy Ferdinand isn’t just what gives the restaurant at the top of King Street in Manchester its patina of glamour. It is one of the city’s main celeb haunts - just check out the walls of the place, a gallery of ‘Who’s Who’ of famous clientele.

David Beckham, Boris Becker, Coleen Rooney and Michelle Keegan have all been papped at the impressive portal of the beautiful Italianate Rosso building.

What’s to love about the place? The buzz for a start, as well as a menu packed with Italian favourites and a ‘Shelf’ where you can sip cognac costing a cool £750 a shot. Mere bagatelle for the footballer on £100,000 a week.

Rio Ferdinand at Rosso, ManchesterRio Ferdinand at Rosso, Manchester

Then there’s the former Manchester City player, Urmston-based Michael Johnson who has unveiled plans to open a new restaurant in Didsbury with his own Michelin-starred chef on board.

Meanwhile, Liverpool player Steven Gerrard has already brought fine dining to Southport at his co-owned trendy Warehouse Kitchen and Bar.

And, where footballers go the rest of the world want to follow...

Posh and Becks brought global attention to Belle Epoque, Knutsford, in the 1990s and The Living Room in Manchester was a regular haunt for the youthful Giggs, Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes - all now involved in the new enterprise, a kind of football version of Planet Hollywood.

Rosso, ManchesterRosso, Manchester

It seems the new ‘relaxed dining’ experience of all those years ago has had a ripple effect, especially on Gary Neville who was recently at Manchester’s Food and Drink Festival helping Wignall and the hotel’s executive chef, Brendan Fyldes cook up such signature dishes as Nev’s Noodle Pot and CF Sausage Roll.

Also on a menu that reworks old favourites like fish fingers, chicken in a basket and beans on toast are Karren Brady’s Match Day Classic - pie mash and chilli liquor, Giggsy’s Red Dragon sausage mash and onion gravy and Vaughny’s Cup Final Dish of 1991, perfect ham, fried egg and chips.

Admittedly, this doesn’t sound like the kind of food fit for a marriage proposal (or maybe it is) but make no mistake the cooking is serious.

Food critic Jay Rayner’s verdict on the sausage roll sampled at Giggs’s cafe football in London was ‘a glorious thing that I want to adopt as my third child.’ Said Giggs after being questioned by The Times about his foodie ambitions: ‘We’re not chefs and we’re not experts in hospitality, but we’ve had a lot of experience travelling the world, eating at nice restaurants, eating at nice hotels. We knew what we wanted, it was just putting it out there.’

The ambitions don’t stop there. The elegant building in Manchester city centre which housed the sophisticated Italian, Stock, has been bought by Gary Neville and rumour is it will be turned into a private members’ club.

And he’s not the only Neville brother with a commercial interest in food. Hale-based Phil Neville shares the passion of wife Julie for their health food enterprise Win Naturally and can often be seen pricing up gluten free bakes and nutritional supplements at their Arndale store.

This is all good news for the region, where a novel restaurant experience occurs every week. Still, if you want a taste of retro - well, there’s always Lou Macari’s chip shop.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Yesterday, 14:33

Cosy, warm and welcoming. Discover some of the county’s best places serving up food perfect for the new season

Read more
Autumn
Friday, August 31, 2018

A £10million project has transformed a Victorian hotel into a Lakes spa resort with a brilliant pan-Asian restaurant. Roger Borrell reports.

Read more
Derwentwater Asian Food Luxury Break
Friday, August 24, 2018

It’s a cooking career that started with a tuna pasta bake and now Chris Parsons is head banqueting chef at Ribby Hall Village, venue for this year’s Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards. He spoke to Roger Borrell

Read more
Ribby Hall
Monday, August 20, 2018

Come and enjoy a relaxed dining experience effortlessly prepared by our Award Winning Head Chef.

Read more

Your granny wouldn’t like it but this Manchester restaurant aims to be out of this world, writes Roger Borrell.

Read more
Manchester Restaurants Asian Food
Friday, August 3, 2018

Due to the popularity of our Vegan Menu and to promote the health benefits of a plant based diet we are launching our weekly vegan night, Choose Vegan.

Read more
Friday, August 3, 2018

The world’s best pizza deal comes to The Feilden’s Arms at Mellor Brook.

Read more
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Join us Monday to Friday, from 12pm ‘til 3pm during the school summer holidays (23/7/18 to 31/8/18) when children under 12 can enjoy a Kids Pizza for FREE.

Read more
Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Lancashire couple sold up their home and their business so their sons could become farmers

Read more
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Beautiful food in beautiful surroundings...

Read more
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fine dining in elegant surroundings makes Pier Eight at the Lowry a destination dining restaurant you’ll want to visit time and again, says Kate Houghton.

Read more
Friday, July 20, 2018

It’s summer, so let’s eat out on the riviera...the Mersey riviera, that is

Read more
Liverpool
Friday, July 20, 2018

An old tea service owned by her grandmother set Tina Nunn on the path to a rewarding new career.

Read more
Afternoon Tea
Thursday, July 19, 2018

A young couple are taking an innovative approach to farming on land overlooking Morecambe Bay

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search