Local barber gets unexpected customers... from Manchester United
When local barber Muhammad Khairi received a text message from a UK phone number on Friday, little did he think that it would lead to him cutting the hair of players from his favourite team – Manchester United.
Just after 6pm on Friday, Khairi received a text message from someone who introduced himself as “Ashley”.
Speaking to The New Paper outside The ‘A’ Street Barber Shop at Haji Lane, the 28-year-old who has been a professional barber for the last six years, said: “It was a message asking me if I could come down to Ritz Carlton hotel to cut hair for players.
"He said that he got my number from one of my regular clients. I had to message my client to check who it actually was. And my client said that it actually is who he really claims to be and told me to enjoy.”
It was then that Khairi realised the text message was from United’s Ashley Young.
The former England international, 34, then gave Khairi instructions to look for them at the hotel.
When Khairi reached the hotel at 8.30pm, he was taken aback by the sheer number of fans waiting to see the Red Devils.
Khairi then approached hotel security to inform them of what he was there to do.
“The security guys didn’t believe me. I mean I do look local after all. I had to show them my text conversation with Young, then they arranged for me to go up.”
Khairi was then escorted to a vacant room and, after several anxious minutes of waiting, Young walked into the room and greeted him.
Said Khairi: “That was the moment that it sank in that this was really happening. From the time I got the text till that moment I saw Young in the flesh, I felt like everything was a blur.
“But I had to be professional and get the job done. Young made me feel really comfortable and he was so down-to-earth. I asked him about the criticism he gets online from some fans and he just told me that it is something that comes with the job and he just tries to ignore it.
“After this meeting, I really have a new perspective of him. He was really, really down-to-earth.”
After Khairi was done with a fresh trim for Young, next up was Khairi’s favourite United player – French superstar Paul Pogba.
“When he walked in, I was stunned. But I greeted him by saying ‘Assalamualaikum’ (Arabic for ‘peace be upon you’) and he returned the greeting.
“Pogba was the most particular about his hair. He was very specific about what he wanted.
“But after I was done, he looked at the mirror and said with a wide smile, ‘Nice boss’.”
Marcus Rashford, Marcos Rojo and Joel Pereira were next in the queue to get their hair cut by Khairi.
As for payment, Khairi said that while Young had asked him for bank details so that he could transfer money over, Khairi turned it down. Normally, he charges $35 for each haircut.
“Being able to cut their hair is already an honour and privilege,” said Khairi, who instead took up Young’s offer of a United kit and tickets to Saturday’s International Champions Cup match against Inter Milan at the National Stadium.
So impressed by his craft, Young texted Khairi again on Saturday at 7am to request that he cut more of his teammates’ hair before the Red Devils fly off to Shanghai to continue their pre-season tour.
“He texted me saying ‘Good morning bro Curry (Khairi’s nickname)’ and told me more players want to have a haircut,” said Khairi.
When asked whose mane he would hope to style when he is back at Ritz Carlton, Khairi who counts Lions captain Hariss Harun, Fandi Ahmad and Irfan Fandi as local clients, said: “Definitely, the manager, Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer). He is a legend. I might even faint. And Juan Mata because he seems like a really nice guy.”
Khairi also revealed that since he posted about his day on Instagram, his phone had been buzzing non-stop with texts from friends and messages from strangers on his social media accounts.
He anticipates that he may be seeing a lot more scalps.
“I have this belief that we are all made the same. They are footballers and are famous and I am not but we are all humans at the end of the day. I tried to be as professional as I could. If because of this, my craft is more recognised and I get more customers, I’ll be more than happy.
"I met footballers from the club I support and was able to do something for them that is my passion.
“I have to ask myself if I am still dreaming.”