To mark the occasion, we’re running the ex-captain’s interview with United Review, in which he speaks about scoring for the Reds, managing Sunderland and learning from the great man he shares his birthday with – now 69 years young, Sir Alex Ferguson…
What’s it like as a former player coming back to Old Trafford as an opposition manager?
It’s great. It’s been a hell of a long time since I left – 1996, would you believe – and those 14 years have gone so fast. Half the fans probably can’t remember who I am ! Seriously though, the United supporters are still incredibly good to me, and still see me as one of their own, which is great. It’s always, always the fixture that I look forward to and relish the most – although I don’t look forward to getting beaten here, which seems to happen a little too often.
What do United fans remind you about most from your playing career? Is it the obvious one…?
Yeah, that Sheffield Wednesday game at the end of the 1992/93 season, where I scored those two headers. That always comes up. I could live off that story if I wanted to! We hadn’t won the League for 20-odd years and people still see that afternoon as the catalyst for winning it. We still had a lot of work to do that season following that game, but in people’s memories, it was crucial.
What do you remember of the match itself?
Everything! It was a red-hot day. Paul Ince gave a penalty away with a rash challenge. Suddenly everyone was thinking about the year before, when Forest had beaten us at Old Trafford and we’d gone on to lose the title. Fans mainly remember the second of my goals – but they forget it was big Pally