Irwin backs De Gea to beat his appearance tally

Saturday 07 January 2023 07:00

Against Everton on Friday, David De Gea played for Manchester United for the 511th time.

In reaching this tally, David moved one appearance above fellow United legend Joe Spence to become outright 10th on our all-time list.

The Spaniard is closing in on seven-time Premier League winner Denis Irwin’s tally of 529 games, and the legendary full-back was characteristically gracious when asked about the prospect of David surpassing his total later this season.

“That’s life! Records are there to be broken,” he said in an exclusive interview with club media. “I’m on 529, I’m next in line. I’m sure De Gea will achieve that this season – a season where he’s been fantastic for us.

“He’s our no.1 goalkeeper, he’s going to be here for hopefully a while yet. He’s a main part of our team going forward and I’m sure he’ll breeze past mine and breeze past a few more as well.”

How does Irwin feel about De Gea overtaking him? Video

How does Irwin feel about De Gea overtaking him?

How does Denis Irwin feel about David De Gea potentially overtaking his appearances record? Let's find out...

Irwin also heaped further praise on De Gea, who is the only international player to feature among the top 10 appearance makers.

“I think [the number of appearances David has] is huge for a number of reasons,” he said. “First of all, when players reach that number of appearances, they’re normally local lads or lads that are from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Very rarely in this day and age do you get a player from other parts of the world to reach that milestone.

“So first of all, brilliant, well done, fantastic for him. Of course he’s still got many more minutes to go, hopefully at this club. I think it’s a huge achievement, I really do. He’s been at the club for 11-12 years. Let’s hope that he’s got plenty more years to come.”

The former United full-back accumulated his own tally of 529 matches during his 12 years at the club from 1990 to 2002, and won a lot of trophies along the way - including the Treble in 1999.

Irwin says he never paid attention to such records during his playing days, but now looks back on his accomplishments with pride.

“I think it’s only when you look back at it and you finish your career and kind of recognise what you achieved at the club,” he said. “I had 12 great years at the club. I played over 500 games and as I said, I played with some great, great players and won some trophies under a fantastic manager.

“But to play over 500 times for this great club, when I look back at it, is an enormous achievement. 

“To play 529 times for a club of this magnitude, especially coming from Ireland as well where I grew up and recognised and always knew how big Manchester United were, to achieve that is some feat.

“So for David as well to do that, [is] brilliant.”

De Gea could also potentially also surpass former Reds ‘keeper Alex Stepney this season, a feat which would make him the goalkeeper who has played the most games for the Reds in history.

Irwin hopes the Spaniard can achieve this, but says that what the 32-year-old has already cemented his place as a United great.

“Well I think he’s a legend anyway, there’s no doubt about that,” Denis said. “The amount of time he’s spent here, the amount of games he’s played.

“But what I will say is Alex Stepney was a great goalkeeper back in the day and if David does manage to pass him that is another fantastic achievement, to be the goalkeeper with the most appearances.

“I think we’ll have to play a lot of matches for him to get past it, but the good thing about this manager, he doesn’t make too many changes. [David’s] played a lot of matches in the first half of the season and I’m sure he’s going to play a lot of matches in the second half of the season.

“The fact that we’re still involved in a lot of cup competitions, and hopefully we’ll go further in cups as well, makes that Alex Stepney appearance [record] within sight. Let’s hope he [surpasses] that.”