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29/06/2008 17:40, Report by Nick Judd
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Part 1: The Solskjaer story

Inside United looks back on the life and times of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in appreciation of his glittering 11-year, 126-goal Reds' career…


It was the phone call Age Hareide had been dreading. The Molde boss knew how good Ole Solskjaer was, the question was when – not if – the big clubs would come calling. "Sir Alex phoned me up a lot to get my opinion on players in Norway," Hareide said. "He knew I knew the English scene and wanted my views on certain players and how they might do in England. Then, finally [July 1996] came the day when the call was about one of my players. Sir Alex asked about Ole Gunnar. I knew we’d miss him badly, but you can't stand in a player's way when Manchester United come along. "I told him: `You've got to sign him.' And he did. United got him for £1.5 million! I think they owe me some money considering what they got!”

For Ole and United, it was love at first sight. Little hoopla surrounded his move, but that changed fast. The first indication we’d got ourselves a baby-faced assassin came at Oldham’s Boundary Park, Ole bagging both in a 2-0 win for the Reserves. Then, days later, he came on as a substitute, with United trailing Blackburn at Old Trafford. Entering the fray in the 64th minute, he equalised just six minutes later to preserve an unbeaten 32-game home streak in a 2-2 draw. He hasn’t forgotten either occasion. “Both those matches are firmly stuck in my mind,” he said. “It was a very proud moment to be wearing the Red shirt for the first time, even if it was only a Reserves fixture. To then score at Old Trafford was so special. I’ll always treasure the memory of those two matches.”

You don’t become United’s top goalscorer in your first season without having other clubs swarm round you when you’re not in the team. In 1997/98, Ole was linked with a host of Europe’s finest, and our worst fears almost came true. Thankfully, he knows his own mind. "I remember talking to my agent a lot about a move to Spurs and he said I was the most stubborn player in the world," he recalls. "The two clubs had agreed a fee – I’ve still got the fax at home! It would have been easy to be pressurised into something like that, but I didn’t want to

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