Viv Anderson

UTD Podcast: Six things we learned about Anderson

Thursday 02 July 2020 20:00

Viv Anderson is never short of a few anecdotes and the former Manchester United defender reels them off during our latest episode of UTD Podcast.

In the extended pod, which is available now, Viv recalls numerous hilarious and intriguing stories, including: how a bust-up with Norman Whiteside helped him sign for United, introducing Eric Cantona to English football and getting scouted on a beach!

Here are just some of our highlights from the podcast...


You might not be aware what Viv’s up to these days, but the 63-year-old has actually helped create an app, called Playonpro, which offers support to former sportspeople.

“They need somewhere to go and someone to speak to [after they’ve retired], so we have an app for them, he explains. “We have over 500 ambassadors now and we try and get work for them. It’s not just footballers, we’ve got golfers, cricketers, athletes, snooker players.”

Viv also speaks about the various benefits included in the app, which range from helping former sportspeople deal with mental health issues, to getting discounted bookings in restaurants.

UTD Podcast: ‘It was big news at the time’ Video

UTD Podcast: ‘It was big news at the time’

Former Reds defender Viv Anderson remembers becoming the first black player to represent England, in 1978…


All footballers have an interesting story about how they got spotted as a youngster, but Viv’s tale is quite remarkable.

“I was on a beach playing football on my own and some bloke came up and said: ‘Would you like a trial for Sheffield United?’,” he tells a stunned Helen Evans, Sam Homewood and David May. 

“I took him over to my parents, he said the same thing and in the trial Manchester United saw me.”

Viv goes on to reveal how he spent a number of years on United’s books as a teenager before being released and having to find a full-time job. Thankfully for his footballing aspirations, Nottingham Forest came in to sign the full-back six weeks later, where Viv eventually went on to help the side win two European Cups.

Viv was a pioneer as a player and, in 1978, became the first black footballer to earn a senior England cap.

With racism being so widely discussed in football and society at present, Viv offers his thoughts on the matter and believes football’s governing bodies need to do more to tackle discrimination.

“I think the deterrent is weak,” he says. “They talk about taking the [England] team off and the three-stage rule, but if fines of £5million are imposed, they’ll make sure those people don’t get in the stadiums again.

“Is it getting worse? I think it’s not getting any better. The fines and the punishments have to be more severe, so they get noticed.

“It’s about education,” he continues. “It’s very difficult to install something in a 50-year-old because they’re set in their ways. It’s the younger generation [who need to be educated].

“I’ve said to the FA: ‘You have Paul Ince, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, myself, Rio Ferdinand, Emile Heskey - numerous players who have played at the top level and have stories to tell’.

“They’re not involved in football and they are sitting there with experiences to share, but nobody is doing anything about it. That’s my issue with the FA, they talk about doing it but they don’t do it.”

Anderson joined the Reds in 1987, becoming Alex Ferguson’s first Manchester United signing.

There were numerous reasons why the boss decided to bring Viv to Old Trafford, but the former defender explains that a confrontation with Norman Whiteside, when he was playing for Arsenal, impressed Sir Alex.

“I said [to Whitside]: ‘You’re nothing but a bleep bleep bleep!’,” Anderson recalls of a match between Arsenal and United in 1987 when David Rocastle was sent off after a coming together with Whiteside. 

“Sir Alex saw how I stood up to him and later on he wanted to sign me,” Viv continues. “Every time we’d meet up with England I would say to Robbo: ‘That Whiteside is a tosser’.

“Then on my first day [at United] I go round shaking everybody’s hand and I get to Norman and Robbo says: ‘Go on, tell him what you’ve been saying about him’. I said: ‘Hi Norman, don’t believe a word he says!’. And we’ve been mates ever since!”
Listen to Viv's hilarious story about facing Norman Whiteside.

While Anderson had left the Reds before we won our first Premier League title in 1992, the Nottingham-born stalwart was pivotal in Sir Alex’s first few years at United, and Viv hopes he played a part in the progression of the ‘Class of ’92’, who came through a few years later.

“We were always good in the cup competitions,” he says. “We weren’t consistent enough to win the league, even though we had good players. 

“Sir Alex was trying out the lads. He went through a dodgy period before we won the FA Cup [in 1990]. I remember going to Forest - I’d never gone back there and won - and Mark Robins scored and we managed to win the Cup that year.

“We went on from there and then you got the Giggs, Scholes, Butts and Nevilles coming through. He told me my experience would be vital to some of the young lads.”

Every former Red has a personal tale of Eric Cantona’s time in English football - and Viv is no different.

Eric famously came close to signing for Sheffield Wednesday before joining Leeds United in 1992, and Anderson, who was the Owls’ captain at the time, actually played with the Frenchman during his brief trial period in Yorkshire.

“Eric turns up and he scores three in this practice match,” Viv recalls. “Trevor Francis asked me what I thought. I said: ‘A bit lazy, but he’s got something’.

“He told Eric to come back in the afternoon, but Eric says no. He went back to the airport, but a Leeds scout had been watching the game and had collared him on the way to the airport and he signed for Leeds.”

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