For­tune: I was play­ing with my he­roes

Kick Off - - FEATURE -

What did it mean to you to sign for a club as big as Manch­ester United?

How can I de­scribe it now, it’s beyond a dream, it’s beyond imag­i­na­tion, be­cause it’s Manch­ester United, the club I watched on TV as a kid. I watched them win­ning the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in 1999. Sign­ing for Manch­ester United was beyond any­thing I could have ever dreamt of.

When you signed for United, were you made aware of the club’s in­cred­i­ble his­tory?

I knew about the his­tory be­fore I ar­rived there. I think when you even­tu­ally see the in­side of such a great club, it makes you re­alise how big the club re­ally is.

Can you de­scribe the feel­ing when you ran out at Old Traf­ford, United’s fa­mous ground, for the first time in your ca­reer?

I think my de­but was against New­cas­tle, and my full f de­but was against Brent­ford in 2000. These are the guys I had on my wall as he­roes and now I was play­ing with the same guys I ad­mired and the club that I had dreamt about. It was crazy, it re­ally is im­pos­si­ble to de­scribe. The adrenalin, the ex­cite­ment, the hap­pi­ness and joy, all those amaz­ing feel­ings, it’s un­be­liev­able.

You al­ready men­tioned you had a few United play­ers on your wall when you were grow­ing. Who do you think was the great­est player in United his­tory and why?

I never watched him live, but I have seen DVDs of Ge­orge Best and the way peo­ple speak about him. I have seen doc­u­men­taries and peo­ple are still in awe of his per­for­mances— that tells you how great he was. You don’t just get a statue out­side Old Traf­ford if you weren’t that good. I have been very for­tu­nate to play with some amaz- ing play­ers, but the way peo­ple speak about Ge­orge Best and from watch­ing his clips— also con­sid­er­ing the time he played, just look at the foot­ball pitches they were play­ing on— it just shows you how good he was, so I have to say Ge­orge Best.

Do you wish any­thing could have gone dif­fer­ently dur­ing your time at Old Traf­ford?

I would have liked to win the Cham­pi­ons League, but that didn’t hap­pen. I was for­tu­nate to win the league, but un­for­tu­nately I had a few in­juries, even though that’s part of the game. Of course I would’ve liked to stay longer, but you have to move on. But yeah, I would’ve loved to win the Cham­pi­ons League dur­ing my time at United, we came close a few times.

You were part of one of the most suc­cess­ful spells at club and many great things have been said about Sir Alex

Fer­gu­son – what stood out for you the most about the Scots­man?

His man-man­age­ment and the re­spect the play­ers had for him. When we ar­rived for train­ing, you would see his car there al­ready. He al­ways ar­rived first and left last. He knew how to speak to each of his play­ers dif­fer­ently. His man-man­age­ment skills are the best I have seen. And on top of that he knew ev­ery­thing about the game, he knows the game in­side out and was a mas­ter of his trade.

Is there any game in par­tic­u­lar from your United ca­reer, where you think ‘wow, this was the great­est game in my United his­tory’?

I think the game that stood out for me is the Tot­ten­ham game away fromf home, where we were los­ing 3-0 at half-time. The man­ager was amaz­ing that day, and still be­lieved we could go out and win the game. We couldn’t be­lieve how calm he was de­spite be­ing down 3-0 at half-time. He was so pos­i­tive and we went out and scored five goals to win the game. These are the games, where you think, ‘ Wow I was a part of that team’ and Fer­gu­son played a ma­jor part in our turn­around.

Do you think Jose Mour­inho is the right man to lead United back to the glory days of Fer­gu­son?

You have to for­get about copy­ing what Sir Alex Fer­gu­son did. Jose Mour­inho is a man­ager with great ex­pe­ri­ence, def­i­nitely the right man for the job. They had a great start this sea­son, and I’m not sur­prised be­cause they had a great pre-sea­son and he’s made some good sign­ings. He is def­i­nitely the guy that can bring more tro­phies to United.

You are liv­ing in Manch­ester, you have ex­pe­ri­enced the fans and you still work for the club as an am­bas­sador. Why do you think United be­longs among the great­est clubs in the world?

The his­tory of the club, what it has achieved. The mas­sive fan base across the world. Every­where you go, we have tons of ex­cited fans. The rea­son why peo­ple love United is be­cause of the foot­ball and the his­tory, the tro­phies the club has won and that’s why you find them among top five clubs in the world.

RIGHT: For­tune in ac­tion dur­ing a league match against Charl­ton Ath­letic in 2002.

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