Treble Icons: Wes Brown
It may have been his first year, in 1998, in the Manchester United first team but, with appearances in the Champions League against Barcelona and Bayern Munich, our Treble-winning campaign was one to remember for Wes Brown.
The defender made 21 appearances over the course of the campaign, to add to the two he made in the previous campaign. Four of these came in the Champions League group stages as the Reds fought past Brondby, Barcelona and eventual fellow finalists Bayern Munich to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.
Wes would go on to be a mainstay of United's squad for the next 12 years with another highlight coming in 2008 for the Longsight-born defender as he provided the assist for Cristiano Ronaldo's opening goal in our Champions League triumph in Moscow.
Now Brown will pull on a United shirt again when he returns for the Treble Reunion game against Bayern Munich at the Theatre of Dreams on 26 May. Tickets for the game are available to buy here, with all proceeds going to the Manchester United Foundation.
LET'S HEAR FROM THE MAN HIMSELF
"Being part of the squad in ’99, I’d ended up with all three major trophies in my first season," he said as part of Utd Unscripted. "You don’t realise until many, many years later just how hard it is to do that.
"At the time, I was only young. It flies over your head and you just think that’s how it is, that you can just go out and win everything. It isn’t anything like that simple.
"Looking back, the focus and mentality of the lads must have been second to none to win all three of those trophies."
THE STORY OF WES IN 1998/99
What a moment to make your mark at Manchester United. Wes was in pole position to be thrown into the squad due to injuries and defensive team-mates falling out of form over the course of the campaign. The youngster slotted in at right-back and in his favoured position of centre-back and went on to win the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award at the end of the campaign for the second year running.
His first appearance of the season came in a 3-0 win over Southampton at The Dell, where he came on as a substitute with 12 minutes to go for Denis Irwin, but made his first start two weeks later as the Reds demolished Wimbledon in a 5-1 win.
Brown was important in the group stages of the Champions League. He featured in both games against Brondby, making his European debut in United's 6-2 away win in Denmark. The European debutant had a match to remember as he progressed unimpeded into the final third and claimed an assist when his cross was fumbled by the keeper for Ryan Giggs to tuck away.
In the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, Wes came on as a first-half substitute after half an hour and helped the hosts to an emphatic 5-0 victory.
His final appearance of the season came in our 2-1 win over Aston Villa, where he came on as a substitute as the Reds picked up three valuable points on 1 May.
WES'S BEST MOMENT
The standout moment from Brown's season were his two appearances against Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stages.
The defender was put straight into the starting XI by Alex Ferguson as the Reds battled to a 3-3 draw in a thriller at the Nou Camp.
Two weeks later, Brown was back in the starting XI. This time, it was for the Reds' final group fixture against a strong Bayern unit. The young defender had to be stout against the German outfit with Wes producing two fine clearances before striker Giovane Elber could pounce as qualification remained on a knife-edge.
Wes played the full 90 minutes as a 1-1 draw was ultimately enough for both clubs to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE TREBLE?
This was just the beginning of what was a hugely successful career for Brown. The defender went on to make a total 362 appearances before he left in 2011, scoring five goals. As well as the Treble, Wes managed to collect 10 further top honours, including the 2008 Champions League, when he played a key role.
Brown headed to the north-east to join Steve Bruce's Sunderland in July 2011. In his time at the Stadium of Light, Wes racked up just under 90 appearances in all competitions over five seasons, some of which were hindered by injury.
In September 2016, Brown signed a short-term deal with Blackburn Rovers until the end of the season and also took up a coaching role with the club's development squad. He scored on his debut in a 3-2 defeat to Reading with Rovers ultimately relegated to League One. After that, Brown spent a year in India, with former coach Rene Meulenstein, at Kerala Blasters.
A LEGENDARY ILLUSTRATION
Thanks to United fan and Old Trafford season-ticket holder Stanley Chow for his illustrated portrait of Wes Brown. To see more of his ‘Treble Winners’ collection, visit www.thestanleychowprintshop.com.