“I had the fortune - though at the time I deemed it the misfortune - of rooming with him on one occasion,” he smiles, wryly. “For whatever reason, probably injury or suspension, our two regular room-mates weren’t there so Les and I ended up in the same room. He was by far the worst room-mate I ever had. He liked to have a late-night fag. In the room that is, not outside. He just opened the window. He also had the telly on as loud as he could possibly have it. I said: ‘Les, what are you doing?’ To which he replied, ‘I can’t sleep.' Funnily enough, neither could I."
Despite his key role in the dressing room, the arrival of Peter Schmeichel starved Sealey of playing time, and he joined Aston Villa in 1991 before moving back to Old Trafford two years later. He made just two more appearances before leaving the club for stints with Blackpool, Leyton Orient, Bury and West Ham (twice). Les’ final appearance in league football came as a substitute for the Hammers at Old Trafford on 11 May 1997, coincidentally the same day as Eric Cantona’s final match.
Sealey took on the role of goalkeeping coach at Upton Park, where the youngsters learning their trade under him included his two sons, Joe and George. Out of the blue, on 19 August, 2001, Les suffered a fatal heart attack. The news stunned football, and especially those who knew him.
“It stopped me in my tracks when I heard,” says Pallister. “To hear of somebody, especially in our line of work - where you keep yourself fit day in, day out - dying of a heart attack… I just couldn’t believe it. It didn’t feel real. You immediately think of his wife, Elaine, and the kids and what a shock it must have been for them as well.”
“I was gobsmacked,” echoes Robson. “Les was such a bright, bubbly character. Anyone who shared a dressing room with him will always remember him. People like Les…