Amazingly, with a little help from NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, the 36-year-old United fan from Moscow, Russia, sent his own MUFC flag into space for 169 days in 2014, when it orbited the earth 2,704 times. As Alexey told ManUtd.com ahead of Wednesday's match with CSKA Moscow, his is an interesting tale.
“I have been supporting Manchester United for 15 years now, since the year 2000,” Alexey explained. “It started in Kosovo, of all places, where I used to be a peacekeeper and where I found a lot of English friends who were also big Reds. They convinced me to become a fan as well!
“But the idea about sending a flag to space only came to me when I ordered it from a friend in England. I realised I could do it because I’ve been working as a translator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia. That’s how I made friends with Steve, who I do a lot of translating for.
“Steve is American and is not a United fan but he quickly agreed to take my flag up to the International Space Station for me because he had some extra space in his own luggage. They are allowed to take 1.5kg up there and the flag only weighs 85 grams, so it was an easy fit.
“I am very proud of what I did and I am proud of the photo because United means a lot to me. We’ve waved our flag up in space and I doubt very much that anybody can take it higher than that!”