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14/07/2009 08:00,
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Heroes: Part 1

From the home front to the global game, we find out who gave Sir Alex and his players the rush...

Sir Alex on Denis Law
Denis Law was my hero as a player. I idolised him. When I first met him I was so excited. It was at a game in Paris, he had played in the first half and we went for a cup of tea afterwards. I thought, ‘This is it, I’ve made it, I’m having a cup of tea with Denis Law!’ He epitomised to me what a Scotsman is. He was daring and courageous, he had that bravado about him and he had style. He was a truly fantastic footballer.

Gary Neville on Bryan Robson
I always thought he was everything that a United player should be, and still do. Even when I watch footage of him in action now I always think of him giving everything for the cause at the defensive end of the pitch and then throwing everything at the ball to get it in the back of the net at the other end. Roy Keane was very similar in that sense and I’m sure that if I’d have been a kid growing up at school watching when Roy was playing he’d have been my hero. For me, those two players are just everything I think a Manchester United player should be. Blood, guts and thunder with real class as well. Don’t get me wrong you’ve got the skilful players like Giggsy, Scholes, Cantona and all those, but for me growing up it was always the Bryan Robson-type player that I loved.

Rafael on Roberto Carlos
It has to be Roberto Carlos. He won three World Cups and did very well in Europe even though he was very small. Sometimes, coming from Brazil, players don’t succeed in Europe, but he was successful for a long, long time. My favourite goal that he scored was for Real Madrid, the shot that he hit from the corner flag that flew into the top corner. The other was a free-kick against Italy in Le Tournoi, it was going about a metre wide and swerved in – just an unbelievable goal from a great player.

Anderson on Rivaldo, Ronaldinho

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