18/11/2013 10:32, Report by Nathan Thomas
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Legends we love: Schmeichel

As Peter Schmeichel celebrates his 50th birthday today (18 November), we look back on his Manchester United career and decipher how and why during eight years at Old Trafford he managed to elevate himself to legend status and set the standard by which every future Reds keeper would be judged...

What makes him so special? A Scandinavian powerhouse, Schmeichel brought with him to Old Trafford a unique style of goalkeeping. A dominant presence both physically and vocally (just ask Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister who played in front of him) the Dane was the proverbial rock on which Sir Alex Ferguson built his first great United side. He became a symbol of the Reds' superiority, unbreakable spirit and indefatigable will to win. They say great goalkeepers make great saves at crucial times and Schmeichel routinely lived up to that hallmark. Often, the blond giant was single-handedly responsible for keeping the Reds in games, no more notably than against Newcastle United at St. James' Park in 1996. The 'Great Dane' - as he came to be known - repelled wave after wave of Magpies attack, hurling his huge frame every which way to keep United's title rivals at bay.

Crowning glory: In the perfect finale to his United career, Schmeichel captained the team to Champions League glory at the Nou Camp in 1999. As he had done so many times, the Dane ensured the Reds remained in contention throughout the match having lost an early goal to Bayern Munich. His saves proved the catalyst for, well, you know what happened next...

He says: "I felt an intense mixture of immense personal pride and joyful humility, and I was delighted that I was able to play a part in re-establishing the club where they belong: at the very top." - Schmeichel describes the aftermath of the 1999 European Cup final.

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