The next player to be fact-filed is one of Manchester United’s most underrated and consistent footballers, Denis Irwin. The full back was named by Sir Alex Ferguson as, pound for pound, his greatest ever signing, which shows you how important he was to United in his 12 year spell here.
Denis was born 31 October 1965 in Cork, Ireland. As a schoolboy, he was earmarked as a future Cork senior Hurler or Gaelic footballer. However, Irwin had other plans and decided to move to England for an apprenticeship with Leeds United in 1983.
Club Playing Career
Denis Irwin began his long and successful career at one of United’s fiercest rivals, Leeds United. He made 72 appearances in a three year spell at Elland Road before moving to Oldham Athletic on a free transfer.
He helped Oldham to reach the final of the Football League Cup and semi final of the FA Cup in 1990. It was that semi final against Manchester United that convinced Ferguson to buy the young defender. He was transferred to United for a mere £625,000.
Denis made 529 appearances for United between 1990 and 2002 and was an ever-present in the side during that time. Unusually, he was given penalty taking duties which contributed to the 33 goals he scored at United. During his illustrious career, he won seven Premier League titles, one Champions League, three FA Cups, one Cup Winners Cup, and one League Cup. In the treble winning season of 1998/1999, Irwin was a main fixture of the team, making 48 appearances. The Irishman’s last appearance for Manchester United was on the final day of the 2001/02 Premier League Season against Charlton Athletic. He was awarded the captains armband for the game which finished goalless. Irwin remains the second most-decorated player in United’s history, with thirteen winner’s medals.
Denis then moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers on a free transfer, helping them to promotion to the Premier League in his second season with the club. A 38 year old Irwin announced his retirement at the end of the 03/04 season when Wolves were relegated from the Premier League.
International Playing Career
Denis Irwin made the first of his 56 senior appearances for Ireland in a friendly win against Morocco on 12 September 1990. He scored four goals for his country with the first coming against USA in an international friendly. The versatile defender played for Ireland in the 1994 World Cup before retiring from international duty in 1999.
Post Playing Career
Denis now works as a presenter for MUTV and has also been involved in the coverage of several football tournaments on RTÉ.
Irwin’s all-time United XI
Sir Alex Ferguson once said that Irwin would be the only player guaranteed a place in his all-time United XI, so let’s see who would make Denis Irwin’s United XI. Denis decided to go with a 4-4-2 formation- and didn’t even pick himself!
GK: Peter Schmeichel
RB: Gary Neville
CB: Nemanja Vidic
CB: Jaap Stam
LB: Patrice Evra
RM: Cristiano Ronaldo
CM: Roy Keane
CM: Paul Scholes
LM: Ryan Giggs
ST: Wayne Rooney
ST: Ruud van-Nistelrooy
That is a great team but there are some big omissions! Do you think you can name a better XI? Let me know in the comments below.
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