Manchester United: When prankster blagged his way into team photo before Bayern Munich clash

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Manchester United fans of a certain age will remember this bizarre incident well.

Ahead of a huge Champions League semi-final second leg clash against Bayern Munich in April 2001, a random bloke wearing full United kit somehow managed to join the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs for the customary pre-match photo.

In front of 60,000 fans at the Olympiastadion, plus millions more watching around the world on TV, Karl Power lined up as if he was part of United’s starting XI.

Gary Neville was the first to spot United’s then-unidentified 12th man, followed by Keane.

However, Power held his nerve, telling Neville to “shut it” before the photographers snapped away.

The footage is remarkable to watch, even now, almost 20 years later. Watch it here...

United’s bemused players knew something was amiss but still stood and posed alongside Power, who looked proud as punch next to Andy Cole.

Speaking to The Guardian in 2016, Power revealed that he told Neville he was doing it as a tribute for his hero Eric Cantona.

“[Neville] points at me and says, ‘Who’s that?’, and I say to him, ‘Shut it, Gary, you grass, I’m doing it for Cantona’,” Power said.

An unemployed labourer at the time, Power briefly became the most famous man in Britain.

“It’s still the best day of my life,” he admitted.

The prankster went on to make an appearance at Headingley, coming out to bat during an England vs Australia test match.

And in 2002, he played a warm-up rally for Tim Henman on Centre Court at Wimbledon, despite only picking up a racket for the first time that morning.

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However, Power ended up in prison in 2005 after being jailed for £26,000 benefit fraud, according to The Evening Standard.

His stunt during the United vs Bayern Munich game ultimately backfired when authorities received an anonymous tip-off about his life outside the photo.

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“The 37-year-old father was entitled to claim benefits after a machete attack in 1994 left him severely disabled and unable to work,” the report from January 2005 reads. “But he failed to declare a change of circumstances when he moved in with a girlfriend and continued claiming more than he should have done.”

Jailing Power for six months, Judge Anthony Ensor told him: “You were caught by your own vanity, by your addiction to self-publicity in outwitting security at sporting events.”

In 2016, it was revealed that Power - a father of four children - was managing a band called the Backhanders and was set to host a charity rugby and music festival in Manchester.

His days as a prankster appear to be behind him, but the memories will stay with him for the rest of his life.

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