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"It is a great privilege to call him a friend, particularly when you consider what he has achieved with the club and the icons he's played alongside. He is an amazing character and if I ever asked for help, I'm certain he'd answer the call. Happy birthday, Paddy!"

- MUTV's Stewart Gardner

19/02/2014 09:00, Report by Stewart Gardner

Happy birthday, Paddy

In 2007, I experienced a moment that inspired the most dramatic change in my life and transformed the way people approached me. I'm not talking about a wedding or the birth of a child - but the day I started working with one Patrick Timothy Crerand at MUTV.

Every day since, the same question has been asked of me from inquisitive Reds all around the world: where is Paddy? It's a query that demonstrates the man's immeasurable popularity among fans, both at home and abroad, and is a testament to his 51-year association with Manchester United.

It's impossible to walk anywhere with him because he knows everybody in football. Famously, he also has a great rapport with the public and enjoys plenty of banter - although this wasn't in evidence when we first met in 1998.

I'd just started a job with BBC Manchester and was shadowing their commentary team for United's FA Charity Shield defeat to Arsenal at Wembley. Paddy and I were introduced and at half-time, a Gunners fan made the mistake of pouring a drink over him. Seconds later, this hapless bloke was on his back with stars in his eyes. What a first impression! 

His now-infamous temper has provided some brilliant stories, most notably when he threw a rock-solid pork pie at an obstructing Ukrainian journalist's head or nearly came to blows with a Man City fan on the London underground.

Luckily, we have an excellent rapport. When I first took over from former MUTV commentator Steve Bower - a daunting enough task in itself - it became quite clear that I wouldn't be able to do the job if I didn't get on with Paddy. Thankfully, we gelled brilliantly and it's been a fantastic ride ever since.

It is a great privilege to call him a friend, particularly when you consider what he has achieved with the club and the icons he's played alongside. He is an amazing character and if I ever asked for help, I'm certain he'd answer the call. Happy birthday, Paddy!

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