One of the great sporting photographs shows Peter Schmeichel at full stretch in mid-air, eyes fixed intently on the ball zooming towards his goal, clawing it, seemingly impossibly, away with his huge palm.
This hulking figure – one who was seemingly forever barking out orders at his defence – is arguably the best transfer deal Sir Alex Ferguson ever struck. The boss paid just £550,000 to Brondby for the 27 year-old Danish international in August 1991. It was football’s equivalent of daylight robbery: within a year Schmeichel and his compatriots had struck gold in the 1992 European Championships, given a tournament wild card as a last-minute replacement for civil war-torn Yugoslavia.
Success on the international stage – Schmeichel made two corking saves in the final – was clearly no flash in the pan. Any great team starts from solid foundations, and it was immediately obvious that none were more solid than Schmeichel. His eight seasons at Old Trafford were dripping in gold: the European Cup and Super Cup, five Premiership titles, three FA Cups and the League Cup, as well as four Charity Shield successes.
Quite simply, Schmeichel was often unbeatable. With astonishing agility for his 6ft 4in frame he could stop shots from all angles,