John Sivebaek.

The story of our first scorer under Sir Alex

Ahead of our clash with FC Copenhagen, it's worth remembering the first man to score for Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson was a Dane.

John Sivebaek had arrived from Vejle Boldklub during Ron Atkinson's tenure and it was his free-kick in a 1-0 victory over QPR that earned the first win of Ferguson's Old Trafford reign.

Remarkably, it turned out the only time the full-back scored for the club before he was sold to Saint-Etienne in 1987.

John Sivebaek in action at Anfield.
John Sivebaek in action against a pal off the field but rival on it in Jan Molby.

Inside United, the official club magazine, caught up with John to discover a bit more about his Reds credentials...

MY ARRIVAL
“It was a dream for me to sign for such a big club. United followed me for a year or so, from when I’d scored against Republic of Ireland [for Denmark]. There were a lot of clubs after me and that convinced United to come up with an offer to FC Vejle. I had offers from Germany, Holland and Belgium, but it was quite an easy decision for me to sign for such a big club.”

MY DEBUT
“I remember it quite easily as it was on my wife’s birthday – at Anfield against Liverpool. We arrived on the bus and the window got shattered just where I sat. Tear-gas was let off when we left the bus so we had to go to the dressing room very quickly. It was okay and the game ended 1-1 but I did wonder if every game was going to be like that because then it would be very tough! But I knew Liverpool and United are big rivals and there is always a special atmosphere to these games. Thankfully, the next matches were much calmer!”

FAVOURITE GAME
“Of course, I remember the game when I scored my one and only goal – against QPR. It was the first win for Sir Alex so it was a special moment for me and a special memory. I’m very proud of that – the only goal I scored for United. It is part of history.”

TOUGHEST OPPONENT
“I remember playing a few games against Wimbledon and the way they played was really physical and very hard. The hardest game I ever had was against them and John Fashanu was up front. He was just a big, big guy.”

THE TEAM I WANTED TO BEAT MOST
“I think it has to be Liverpool or Manchester City. Still the same as now.”

THE BEST PLAYER I PLAYED WITH
“There are a lot to mention. Our captain Bryan Robson, Jesper Olsen, Gordon Strachan, Mark Hughes. We had different roles in the team but they were all big names and I was happy to play with all of them.”

MY BEST FRIENDS AT UNITED
“Obviously, Jesper Olsen but Gordon Strachan and Chris Turner as well. We lived in Wilmslow, on the same road actually, so we got together and knew each other a bit more than the other ones. But I think there was a good atmosphere between us all. I knew Jan Molby at Liverpool too.”

MY BEST UNITED MEMORY
“Aside from the goal I scored, I also remember when Ron Atkinson left. He came in, said he had been sacked, and went around shaking hands with everybody. It was a very special feeling and a special moment. Here was a guy who bought me and you never know what is going to happen afterwards. I’d never experienced these things before and, for me, it was a bit like losing your father.

I LEFT UNITED WHEN...
”Sir Alex bought Viv Anderson in the summer of 1987 and talked to me about that. He said: ‘I can’t promise you a place in the team but I would like you to stay because I think you are a good player’. I had to think of my international career and that’s why I decided to move. I didn’t want to leave but, if I didn’t play regularly, then I would lose my place with Denmark. It was a very, very difficult decision but a good move in the end. I liked France, I stayed there for five years and it is like my second home but I didn’t speak French at all when I went there. You feel very much alone in the whole world and it was a difficult beginning for me. I felt like a stranger.

John Sivebaek.
John Sivebaek won the European Championship with Denmark in 1992.

WHAT I LEARNED AT UNITED
“I was quite young, 24, when I came and I only had experience of Denmark. I think I learned you have to express yourself and show what you can. To be honest, I was too shy when I look back but I think I showed good qualities on the pitch and that is the most important thing for me.”

WHAT UNITED MEAN TO ME
“I have United in my heart – more than I have Saint-Etienne and Monaco because Manchester United are a special team. Maybe they are the biggest club in the world now and they had the best manager as well. I had a fantastic time and it was outstanding when the fans shouted your name as you warmed up and also during the game. It was an atmosphere I will never forget.”

This article first appeared in Inside United, the official club magazine.

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