Schmeichel: I should have spoken to Sir Alex
Peter Schmeichel admits he could have stayed at Manchester United longer – but was ‘too proud’ to ask Sir Alex Ferguson for a reduced playing role.
The Great Dane left Old Trafford in 1999 after captaining us to victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
His decision to depart, initially announced in November 1998, was borne out of a desire to recharge his batteries, outside of the gruelling English top-flight football schedule.
“I was run down, I was mentally tired. We were in every championship with Denmark every two years and your holiday goes and you’re straight back in,” Schmeichel told hosts David May, Alex Bruce and Helen Evans on UTD Podcast.
Schmeichel: I could have stayed after ‘99Video
“I came from the World Cup having played a full season and [went straight] into next season. I didn’t have a break. I was so tired mentally, I couldn’t face another season.
“We had a conversation after the Champions League final and I was like ‘no, I’ve made my decision’.
“Looking back, it could have been a rash decision in a way. The manager could have asked me ‘are you sure?’ He never did, he just accepted it.”
Schmeichel’s career stretched on for another four years, taking in spells at Sporting Lisbon, Aston Villa and Manchester City, before he finally hung up his gloves aged 39 in 2003.
The goalkeeper made 56 appearances in our Treble-winning season, missing only seven games in all competitions.
He concedes that, had he been more willing to ask Sir Alex if he could share his duties with understudy Raimond van der Gouw, he may not have needed to leave the club to seek mental refreshment.
“I think if I had been less proud and said to him I can’t play every game… even in League Cup games I was p****d off I wasn’t playing,” our former goalkeeper added.
UTD Podcast: Schmeichel on signing for CityVideo
“I wanted to play every game. If I stepped away from that and spoke to him about managing me better – not better, but looking after me according to my age and not playing me in certain games.
“If I had been less proud about being on the pitch and accepted one or two games being sat on the bench, it would have worked out quite well for me. I’m not sure my mentality was quite right for that.
“When you look back and see the decision you have made I probably would not have made that decision. I probably would have spoken to the manager.”
You can listen to the full Schmeichel episode of UTD Podcast now, on Deezer and all of your favourite podcast platforms.