Treble Icons: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Twenty years on, the man who scored the most famous goal in Manchester United history is the Manchester United manager, and memories of his huge, defining impact on the 1998/99 season remain as fresh and vivid as ever.
OLE ON THE TREBLE
“We were just so focused on doing our job and we knew that we had come back into games so many times. When Teddy scored, I have to say that I was celebrating so much being able to play an extra 30 minutes of a Champions League final! That was going to be a fantastic experience. But, of course, we had just scored, so we had the momentum and we had won so many times at the end of games that season, so I think we all believed that we could get the winner.
“It was a fantastic end to a great season. The team spirit, the quality of the play we’d shown, the times we had to dig out results, the times we had to stick together as a team, the good nights out – we had a fantastic season.”
“He [Sir Alex] called me and said that the clubs had agreed,”Solskjaer remembered earlier this year.
“He said to me that, if I stayed, I would play quite a bit of football, and that he wanted me to stay, so I listened to him. I felt important, valued. He told me: ‘Don’t tell anyone about this,’ because, of course, the clubs had agreed, but, after the end of that season, I think it was just fair that we all knew I was there still and those were his words.”
“It’s one of those moments that you come outside of your body, really, because [if] you follow the ball, I’m tightly marked by the Bayern Munich defender. But as the ball is floated in, it’s not going to reach me or the area we’re in, and I think the defender lost his concentration. I think he maybe followed the ball and was watching the ball more than watching me, so he let go of me and, as a striker, I’m always the optimist. You have to hope that the ball lands in your area, and it was there, and then it was just about getting your toe to it.”
“At half-time, he spoke to Teddy Sheringham, and I was a bit disappointed he didn’t come up to me and prepare me to come on,”recalls Ole.
“But I had done it so many times, so I knew exactly how to wind myself up and be ready and, when he sent me on, I could see by the way I was running onto the pitch, that I had a spring in my step and I was ready.”
“Ninety-nine times out of 100, that would go into the hands of [Oliver] Kahn or on the head of the guy on the line.”
“It was obvious that his desire was to be a coach, but more than that it was a desire to be the best you can be. I’m very lucky that he never complained [when he was a substitute], I don’t think any other player of that quality would have stood for it. Teddy [Sheringham] was always moaning at me, and I can understand, because he was a great player, but Ole never complained. He had that fantastic patience.”– Sir Alex Ferguson
“A good substitute can change a game, as Ole Gunnar regularly did for United. We’d sit together on the bench and he’d study the opponents he knew he was coming up against later in the game. It served him well.”– Diego Forlan