HOUSTON – Drake will present the official game ball at the Manchester Derby Thursday.
Houston is hosting Manchester City vs. Manchester United at NRG Stadium at 8:30 p.m.
Chairman of Relevent Sports Charlie Stillitano said he is thrilled about hosting the Manchester Derby as part of this year’s International Champions Cup, and having Drake involved in the festivities just adds to the excitement and momentum in Houston.
“Manchester United and Manchester City are two of the fiercest rivals in the game, with a longstanding history of competitive matches. This year’s match-up in Houston for the International Champions Cup (ICC) will be especially exciting, as it’s the first time the Manchester Derby will be played outside of the UK. The support from fans in the U.S. is truly inspiring and is a testament to how much the ICC has been able to grow and attract not only matches of this caliber, but support from global superstars on and off the pitch. We’re thrilled Drake will be joining us on Thursday and look forward to seeing a packed house at NRG Stadium.”
At Lucky's Pub in downtown, Bun B is hosting a watch party, and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will be in attendance. There is also a "special surprise performance." The party is slated to begin at 6 p.m. and end at 11 p.m.
J.J. Watt didn't miss his chance to mingle with some of the players on Wednesday.
Watt swapped jerseys with Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero.
The Manchester rivalry dates back to 1881.
The Derby has taken place 173 times, and this will be the first time the match will be played outside the United Kingdom in the rivalry’s history.
"It’s a bit like Houston-Dallas,” Guy Streatfeild, owner of British Isles in Rice Village, said of the rivalry. “There’s a lot of people here who are real good fans”
Between the two clubs, they boast 24 English Premier League titles, including seven of the previous 10.
The game is a part of the International Champions Cup, a preseason tournament which began in 2013 and brought world-class teams from Europe to the states.
“You find anybody with a small child or teenage boy or even a teenage girl and you’ll find that they support vehemently teams that are Arsenal, Chelesea, Manchester United, Liverpool is a big one, and these have a huge following here and are played in the pubs and bars of Houston,” Streatfeild said. “Since it was (announced) there’ve been a lot of people talking about it, coming in, getting tickets saying this is the first time they got the opportunity to see a first class game from the English (Premier) League and so it’s, it’s really exciting.”