I signed for City and went straight to the pub for a pint - now I am a hero (2024)

If Manchester City end their season with another double on Saturday then Stefan Ortega will have earned the beer that will accompany the celebrations of another successful year.

Ortega might only be set for his 34th appearance for the club at Wembley but he has already become a folk hero at the very least. So much of this season's success has been in the hands - or the legs - of the 31-year-old goalkeeper.

On four occasions he's been called on to replace Ederson in Premier League games and they've all been vital fixtures, against Newcastle, Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Tottenham. His save from Son-Heung Min at Spurs just over a week ago effectively won City the title.

He has also played in key games against Aston Villa, Arsenal and Real Madrid and he has kept four clean sheets out of five in the FA Cup. He played in the title decider against West Ham and for the second successive year will be in goal at Wembley for an all-Manchester cup final.

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That could be his seventh medal in two years at the Etihad, which is not a bad haul as he considers his future this summer, with his wife due to give birth to their second child in August. That could mean a return to Germany, but uncertainty over Ederson's future also makes Ortega a candidate to become City's No. 1 next season.

If he stays, he will continue the life he enjoys in Manchester. Ortega has moved out of the city centre hotel he lived in soon after moving from Arminia Bielefeld to enjoy family life in Cheshire but he still savours a trip to the pub or a local restaurant. In fact, he toasted his move to the Etihad in the summer of 2022 by going for a beer and enjoys a pint of lager when he can.

"When I lived in the hotel in the city centre I was alone in my first week. My Mrs said to me ‘just have a walk around and see how it is’," said Ortega.

"I like beer, so. It was a sunny day in Manchester as well so I was just sitting in a pub and trying the beer. I discovered the 'Old Wellington' on a walk, a cozy pub in a half-timbered house, right next to the National Football Museum.

"As soon as I was standing at the counter, a guest spoke to me. I immediately felt welcome and experienced for the first time the warmth and helpfulness typical of northern England. “The weather is cold, but our hearts are warm,” say Mancunians. I can absolutely confirm that."

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Ortega said Manchester's architecture and city centre reminds him of Hamburg but unlike a lot of foreign players who move to the area, he has taken to the cuisine as well.

Although he visits Pep Guardiola's Tast restaurant - labelling it a "canteen" for City players - he also enjoys the local delicacies. His two-year-old daughter has got him into baked beans and he loves a Sunday roast, including a Yorkshire pudding, often heading to the pub at the weekend to enjoy one.

Ortega spends some of his spare time enjoying the countryside around Cheshire and south Manchester and has visited the former cotton mill Quarry Bank Mill with his family.

"I now live with my family in Cheshire, a region south of Manchester," he said. "We are well looked after there too. We like to have a glass of wine in the tapas restaurant “Sotto” in the small town of Wilmslow. On days off we enjoy walks along the River Bollin."

Ortega has embraced Mancunian life and after his heroics this season, the blue half of Manchester has fallen for their German goalkeeper. He won't need to get his wallet out in the Old Wellington any time soon.

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I signed for City and went straight to the pub for a pint - now I am a hero (2024)


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