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Neil Danns in dreamland as 37-year-old prepares to face Man United in the FA Cup with Tranmere

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'I will soak in every moment': Neil Danns in dreamland as 37-year-old prepares to face Manchester United in the FA Cup just five months after leaving bankrupt Bury and 12 YEARS since his last Premier League gameNeil Danns says Tranmere believe they have a chance pulling of an FA Cup upsetTranmere beat Watford 2-1 on Thursday night to set up Manchester United tieDanns admits he didn't think he'd have change to play on the biggest stage again

It was August when Neil Danns stood outside Gigg Lane, umbrella in his hand, and braved not only the beating rain but whatever questions distraught Bury supporters had for their club's captain about its future.

The answers emerged to be the ones they all had feared, with the Shakers expelled from the Football League days later. Danns, like everyone else from the players to the kit man, knew he would have to find another job.

Five months later and Danns will line up Sunday afternoon for the FA Cup fourth round against Manchester United. Not even Danns expected that.

Neil Danns has admitted he is in 'dreamland' as he prepares to face Manchester United 

Five months ago Danns was looking for a new club after being forced to leave bankrupt Bury

Danns starred as Tranmere beat Watford 2-1 on Thursday to set up Sunday's FA Cup tie 

'To be honest, I didn't think it would ever happen,' he told Sportsmail. 'Playing the game for so long, though, you learn that you just never know. Things change for better or worse and, thankfully for me, it has changed in a good way.'

Danns knows he has been one of the lucky ones. He's 37 now, more than 12 years since he last appeared in the Premier League for Birmingham in a career that has taken him to Crystal Palace, Bolton and Leicester City.

He was on his way to international duty with Guyana when he got a phone call from Tranmere to ask if he would like to meet with manager Micky Mellon.

Danns says Tranmere genuinely believe they have a chance of upsetting out of form United

'Straight away I was excited,' says Danns. 'As a Merseyside lad, I'd always grown up keeping an eye out for Tranmere, one of the local clubs. I always had a feeling I'd end up there one day.'

Danns has made 19 appearances for Rovers this season, the latest as Tranmere knocked out Premier League side Watford in their rearranged replay at Prenton Park, rescheduled due to a water-logged pitch, having come from 3-0 to snatch a draw in the first meeting.

United come to town on Sunday and opportunity is in the air. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under mounting pressure, the United fans have turned on the owners. Has there ever been a better time to face them, especially on Tranmere's own pitch? Solskjaer has told his players to expect divots.

'Everyone is buzzing,' says Danns. 'You can feel the excitement already. It is such a massive game and we're really looking forward to it.'

Danns has made 19 appearances for Tranmere this season - the latest came against Watford

'Anyone who goes into the game not believing we have got a chance has got the wrong attitude. We are realistic, we know it is a big, big ask. 

'Regardless of whether they are struggling, they have talent. They are only struggling by their standard. We cannot get ahead of ourselves. 

'They are still fifth in the Premier League, which is no easy feat. Struggling for Manchester United is different to struggling for a lower-league side.'

Tranmere are struggling themselves, in the League One relegation zone having achieved successive promotions but Danns believes the FA Cup has given the club the belief they can 'give it a real go' in the second half of the season – and there is still the belief that the Cup journey can continue.

'We know that in one-off games, anything can happen. You have got to have that belief. But we have also got to enjoy, especially when you think where the club has come from.'

Danns says Tranmere's FA Cup run has given them hope in their League One relegation fight

There's a personal side to the tie for Danns, too. As a lifelong Liverpool fan, where his son Jayden is also part of the academy, it's always enjoyable to beat United. But, mainly, he knows the time he has left on the pitch, at 37, will not last forever.

Danns loves his music and has spent the last three years studying audio engineering and production in a school in Manchester. He's passionate about song writing and will pursue a career once he retires from football. He also plans to release a charity song with his eight-year-old daughter Hayla-Essen to raise money for disadvantaged children.

'For my own football career, I am on that slope where I don't have many years left,' he says. 'I will take it year by year and at the minute I am playing regularly and putting in decent performances. 

'But I have the opportunity, at the age of 37, to play against Manchester United in the FA Cup live on television. I have to enjoy it. I will soak in every moment.'



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