Simpson: My Premier League debut was a dream
Danny Simpson is the latest guest on UTD Podcast, with the Academy graduate sitting down to discuss his Manchester United career with co-hosts Sam Homewood, Helen Evans and David May.
The defender made eight senior appearances for the Reds, but his highlight was undoubtedly his Premier League bow, when United beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 in October 2007.
Yet that wasn’t Danny’s first experience playing under Sir Alex Ferguson – that came a few weeks earlier, in a slightly less memorable League Cup tie.
“It was here, against Coventry,” the 34-year-old reflected. “Everyone [in my family] came, they had to. It’s the Carling Cup at Old Trafford, you’re making your debut and Coventry City beat you 2-0. Sir Alex went mad!
“It was me, [Phil] Bardsley, [Chris] Eagles, I think Wes [Brown] might have played, Anderson, Nani, I think Dong [Fangzhuo] might have played. We lost 2-0 and you think that’s your last chance because the [next] Carling Cup is a year away and a year is a long time. But that’s not your real debut, for me your Premier League debut is your real debut.”
“That was one of the best days of my life,” he continued. “It was here against Wigan. It was mad; I think Wes has come off injured, Sheasy [John O’Shea] has gone on, Sheasy’s come off injured!
“The boss looks and two defenders have come off – ‘Danny, you’re going on’. That moment, oh my god, as much as you’re buzzing, you’re nervous. I came on at the end of the first half and I started well and ended up setting up Wazza [Wayne Rooney].
“I remember it like it was nowt. [Paul] Scholesy gets the ball, I’ve made an overlap, he plays a nice weighted pass, as he does, and then I’ve played in a cross for a Wazza header. They’ve all ran over to me. It’s [in front of] the Stretford End, it’s a dream.
“As a defender as well – when a striker comes on and scores a goal it’s a dream. But for me, on my debut I set up Wayne Rooney in front of the Stretford End and we won 4-0.
“That was, for me, I know I mention the Carling Cup, but you see that reaction is different. That Premier League day was [bigger]. You’ve just set up Wazza, you’ve just made your Premier League debut, you’ve been there since you were 12, all your mates are buzzing for you.”
While Danny will never forget that high of his maiden Premier League appearance, the right-back does admit he allowed the moment to go to his head and, in an extremely honest recollection, reveals he got a little bit sidetracked by the limelight.
“You make your debut and you’re setting up Wazza and you’ve got the pitch running over: [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Patrice] Evra and Rio [Ferdinand] and they’re coming over to you because they’re buzzing for you. You think you’ve made it at that point, to be honest. You go out and you have a few drinks and you celebrate that moment.
“It’s good but at the same time it’s sad,” he continues, touching upon why he didn't go on to become a regular with the Reds. “I think I could have done more. I think I only got eight or nine games, but it’s sad because I think I could maybe have had more of those moments at United if you don’t get a bit carried away with going out and stuff.”
“I’ve been in Sir Alex’s office a few times. You’re young and I’m a local lad. All of a sudden people know who you are. I probably liked it; I’ll sit here and be honest.
“Then you get a new deal; you’re young and you think ‘what do I do with this?’ You don’t really know what to do and you go out. I got carried away.”
Danny’s UTD Podcast episode will be available from 17:00 GMT via your favourite podcast provider.