UTD Podcast: Silvestre's debut against Liverpool
On the latest episode of UTD Podcast, former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre recalled his dramatic debut for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side at Anfield, just one day after officially signing for the club.
The French centre-back joined United on 10 September 1999 and started for Sir Alex’s team the next day, away to local rivals Liverpool.
Silvestre had chosen United over the Merseysiders, so the defender expected a hostile reception when he took to the field against Gerard Houllier's men.
“Yeah [it was] my first experience [of English football],” said Silvestre. “Maybe it was better in a way because [I had only] two nights to get ready for the game. [I had] one training session and the next day I was on the pitch!
“Maybe it was better not to think too much about: ‘Oh, this is Liverpool, [a] big rival.’”
Before he arrived in England, Silvestre had limited knowledge of the Premier League, and revealed that his only experience of English football was facing United with his previous club, Internazionale, in the 1998/99 season.
“At that time, the Italian league was on TV in France, but not the English,” explained the 44-year-old. “We got to see a little [of the Premier League] when the French started to come to England. So Eric [Cantona], David Ginola and Nicolas Anelka.
“It wasn’t a lot to follow, so my only point of reference was the two legs the previous season against United in the Champions League with Inter Milan.”
Despite being unfamiliar with English football, the French defender drew upon his previous experiences with Internazionale to cope with the pressure of making his debut in the United-Liverpool fixture.
He said: “It wasn’t a shock because I had played [for] Inter against AC Milan.
“I didn’t pay attention to what was said on the sidelines when I was picking up the ball for throw-ins. I was just concentrating on having a good game.
“You know, when you go into the zone you can pretty much take away the supporters if you want to and just focus on the game.”
Silvestre played a pivotal role in United's 3-2 win at Anfield, as Sir Alex's side came away with all three points.
Following his impressive debut, the Frenchman went on to have a long and successful career at Old Trafford, winning the Premier League four times and lifting the Champions League during his nine-year stay at the club.
Listen to the Mikael Silvestre podcast now in the United App.