The wind was blowing so wildly that the rain was almost horizontal, sending most onlookers running for cover.
But Andy Cole did not mind as he watched a kids’ coaching session funded by the Manchester United Foundation in Ordsall, a goalkick away from Old Trafford.
As Cole admits, having a life-saving kidney transplant operation in April has changed his perspective on everything.
The 1999 Treble winner is just glad to be healthy after two years battling illness.
Cole’s problems began in 2015 when he contracted a kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis.
Initially, Cole could not work out what was wrong with him until he eventually gave into his wife Shirley’s nagging to see a doctor.
He’s glad he did and he shudders to think what might have happened if he had continued to ignore his symptoms.
“First I just thought I was dehydrated,” he said. “I thought drink loads of water and then you’ll be good to go. I gained weight and wasn’t like me because I never gained weight.
“I was gaining more and more weight and blowing up. That was the only reason I called the doc.
“My wife got on my case as well. To be fair, it’s a good job she did, otherwise I would not have bothered and I’m here to tell the tale.
“I think men in general, if you fall ill, the last thing you want to do is go to the doctors. Instead you say to yourself ‘man up and get on with it’. I tried to man up for a bit too long.”
Cole, 45, suffered cruel jibes about his weight gain, such as ‘who ate all the pies’ to add to his pain.
He prided himself on being fit and thought his condition would improve, before he admitted the that he was seriously ill.
“About eight months into it, it dawned on me how serious it was,” he said.
“I just kept saying you’re not ill, man up, go to the gym. I wouldn’t confess to myself. But after eight months, I wasn’t getting anywhere.
“When I went to hospital, I thought nothing of it. I thought ‘get myself in, get checked out and then go home’. So when the guy who became my specialist said to me I won’t be going home. I thought that it can’t be that bad, but it was that bad.”
Transplant candidates can wait for years for a good match and Cole was fortunate that his nephew, Alexander, volunteered to give him one of his kidneys.
The transplant operation took place at Manchester Royal Infirmary and Cole, who must take anti-rejection drugs, is recovering well.
“Fingers crossed,” he smiled. “It’s two months now. After three more you can find out a lot more about kidney capacity and where you’re going to be.
“The donor was my nephew, Alexander. A noble job.
“It’s gone really well. The medical team have been absolutely fantastic, the National Health Service has been unbelievable.
“I’ll get there. It will take time and perseverance. At times it’s tough. I think the toughest thing for me is that I can’t be as stubborn as I used to be because no matter what I do now I can’t get there any quicker.
“It takes time, and when you get there, you get there.”
- Cole was speaking to promote the charity match between the Manchester United and Barcelona legends at Old Trafford on September 2 in aid of the Manchester United Foundation, when he will be assistant to Reds manager Bryan Robson.