Treble-winning United winger Jesper Blomqvist celebrates his 39th birthday today (Tuesday 5 February).
And with the Reds welcoming Everton, another of the Swede’s ex clubs, to Old Trafford this weekend, we thought we’d present you Jesper’s recollections of his transfer to Goodison Park in 2001.
Speaking to Inside United, the club’s official magazine, Blomqvist recalled his last meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson. He provides a fascinating insight into the manager and, as Jesper says, might make one or two people think differently about him.
“It was pretty obvious it was time for me to go,” Blomqvist said. “I left the club in November 2001 but hadn’t played since May 1999 because of injury.
“I’d had a chat with the gaffer in the summer and he explained he couldn’t renew my contract. I obviously understood where he was coming from. I was really happy that he let me continue to train at the club, though, and I played one or two games for the Reserves.
“He also got in contact with Walter Smith at Everton and asked him if he would take a chance on me at Everton. I’m really grateful to Sir Alex for everything he did. I completely understood I couldn’t stay at United and I was so glad I wasn’t just kicked out of the door.
“To be honest with you, I felt a little guilty about the whole situation. The club had paid a lot of money for me and I had only managed one season. I felt embarrassed and guilty that I wasn’t able to repay them on the pitch.
“I said sorry to Sir Alex because I felt like I’d let him down and he just said: ‘Jesper, don’t worry. This is the nature of football. You helped us to win the Treble and we’re very grateful for that.’
“Those words lifted a stone from my heart – I’d not played for two years and I felt guilty for taking up the club’s time and money. But he helped me realise I didn’t have to feel bad.