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15/01/2010 12:50


Sammy McIlroy on Wolves 1981

The ex-United midfielder recalls scoring a hat-trick on the day his replacement arrived...

My favourite game at Old Trafford was preceded by Bryan Robson signing for United on the pitch. He played in my position, central midfield, so it was important for me to stake a claim for my place.

I had already set up Frank Stapleton for the first goal and we were attacking when a Wolves defender miskicked it straight to me. I aimed for the far post with a little bit of pace on the ball. I let it go with my left foot and it went across the keeper into the far corner.

There was a big crowd at Old Trafford that day and the roar when I scored just gave me a fantastic feeling. The Stretford End and the old Scoreboard End made an incredible noise.

My second goal, United's third, was from a free-kick. Ray Wilkins was stood over the ball but I fancied it, and he said I should take it based on my performance so far that afternoon. I curled it over the wall and it flew into the top corner, right in front of the Stretford End.

I was on the verge of scoring a hat-trick, something I'd never done before. It came when Gary Birtles laid the ball off to me about 25 yards out and I ran at the big centre half, weaved inside and let fly.

Winning 5-0 was fantastic and my hat-trick was the icing on the cake. I was given the match ball and Robbo signed it: 'To Sammy, from the most expensive sub in the game!'


Premier League