Arguably the greatest goalkeeper of all time, Peter Schmeichel signed off for United at the very top. Here, the Great Dane reflects on an unforgettable final campaign…
What are your memories of the dramatic last 10 days of your United career?
That period was like nothing I'd known before, like something from another planet. We had three huge games with a major trophy at the end of every one. You’d see t-shirts and banners saying ‘one down, two to go’ and then ‘two down, one to go.’ By the time we got to Barcelona I think we’d all just got used to these big games. The way we turned things around and won the final was a very fitting ending to an incredible season.
The final was our last ever match for the club. Did you have chance to take that in?
At the time I don’t think any of us could take anything in. When you play at a club like United under a manager like Sir Alex you’re not allowed to look ahead. You just have to focus on what’s in front of you. That’s what we did in every game and it was the same for the final. I didn’t think about anything other than what was happening there and then.
You couldn’t have scripted it any better, captaining the team to victory…
To make history in my last match for the club… well, it was the absolute perfect ending for me. We were 1-0 down for a long time, but none of us believed we’d lost. There had been a lot of talk about whether or not I should stay and I was very close to agreeing to carry on at the party afterwards. But a few days later I thought about the reasons why I’d decided to leave and opted to stick by my decision.
You certainly celebrated Ole’s winner in style with your famous cartwheel…
It was a completely spontaneous reaction. How do you celebrate a goal like that? What do you do? Do you just say ‘yes, great we’ve scored?’ You can’t, you just want to go wild. Every single fan has a story about how they celebrated that goal. A friend of mine ended up 50 yards from his seat and hugged about 300 people!
Midway through the season the manager gave you some time off – how important was that break?
It was everything and I was very grateful to the boss. At the time I was worn out and couldn’t concentrate or focus, and I just didn’t want to play. I didn’t have the desire. It was at that point I made my decision to leave at the end of the season. When I came back from my break I felt great and was looking forward to every match.