20LEgend - part 2  

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*sambung sket lg ek...
Report by Nick Judd (29/06/2008 17:50)

Part 2: The Solskjaer story

Part Two of Inside United's look back on the life and times of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in appreciation of his glittering 11-year, 126-goal Reds' career…

Few players ever score four in a game, fewer do it twice in the space of nine months. United were one down against Everton in December 1999, but levelled quickly through Denis Irwin. Then the fun began. Two minutes after the equaliser, Ole had put United ahead. Racing past David Weir he slid the ball past Paul Gerrard’s despairing dive to watch it trickle over the line. Minutes before half-time and deja vu, Everton let United through again. Solskjaer – one on one, following a brief catnap from Weir – duly made it 3-1. Three became four when he converted Irwin’s cross for his hat-trick – completing the rout when he tidied up the mess Gerrard left behind following Giggs’ run and shot.

We’d come a long way from ‘Ole who?’ Seven glorious years, in fact. Ironically, given his precision finishing, there was some doubt about when his 100th goal in Red had actually arrived. “After the Bayer Leverkusen game (November 2002) I was told UEFA wanted to give the goal to me, but took it away because my shot would probably have gone for a throw-in,” he remembers. “Well, it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t on target. So officially the one against West Brom [January 2003] was the 100th. To me though, it doesn’t really matter which is the 100th goal or the 99th. A goal is a goal.” Such modesty.

An emotionally charged scene on a rainswept, south London night in August 2006: the game against Charlton was already in the bag, but United’s travelling fans celebrated the third and final goal like it was 1999. Their hero was back. Ole had scored for the first time since April 2003 (against Panathinaikos) and shared the love-in with United’s fans in Charlton’s Jimmy Seed Stand. “After three years out it was great for the fans, for the players and the supporters,” Sir Alex Ferguson said in the post-match after-glow. “Ole is a player who has persevered in trying times and he has never lost faith that he would get his repayment one day.

“When my knee flared up in training it made the decision for me, because it means that I wouldn’t be able to play at the level I want to for this club,” Ole admits. “I also have to think about my long-term health as well. When I was out for so long before, it was always my ambition not only to play again and pull on the United shirt, but I also wanted to lift the Premier League trophy. That was my big dream. So, in that sense, last season was a fantastic experience for me and I’m glad I was able to enjoy that.” Amen.

So many highs, but the Nou Camp aside, which was the peak? Talking to this magazine in 2003, Ole revealed putting one over against the old enemy is always special. “My debut was a big moment, as was the first time we won the league after I arrived. The FA Cup final [in 1999] is a special game. The FA Cup match against Liverpool in the Treble season was a good one, too. The 3-0 away win in Juventus was amazing. That night will always remain special, we scored at crucial times.” So, all in all, it’s fair to see he enjoyed himself.

Ole may be gone – on the pitch at least – but his legend, and his Red flag will fly high, in the stands, and in his heart. “Europe’s great stadiums all have a different feel about them but Old Trafford is home, and that’s special,” he said. “I feel at home at Old Trafford, I really enjoyed playing here, and I’ve never been scared of walking out and playing in front of those huge crowds, because they always want us to do well. For me, there’s nowhere like Old Trafford.”

We’ve done the maths: 216 starts, plus a further 150 substitute appearances, makes 366 games and a fantastic return of 126 goals – Ole strained every sinew for the United cause. “I think I can say I’ve given my all, given everything I could as a player to Manchester United. I’m proud to have been a part of this fantastic club, and played under such a brilliant manager. I’ve also played alongside some great players and made some great friends here. I’ve had some fantastic experiences that are too numerous to just list here and now.”

“The fans have been magnificent,” says Ole. “The people of Manchester and the club’s fans all around the world have given me a different perspective of how passionate people can be about football. I really have to thank the fans a lot because they have always supported me, not only when I was on the pitch, but also in the more difficult times when I was coming back from injury. It’s strange to think that I’ll be an old man, and I’ll be meeting United fans, and they’ll still want to talk to me about that goal. I always get asked questions like: ‘How did it feel? You were the one who won it…’ It wasn’t me who won it, the team won it, it wasn’t my touch, it’s what the team did over the season… but never mind.”

In May 2008, Sir Alex revealed that Ole would take charge of United's Reserves from the start of the 2008/09 season. “I’m very excited about working on the other side of the line," he said. "It will be very challenging, which is important, and I’m pleased I’ll make my first steps into coaching at this club. Whenever I’ve thought about coaching I’ve always wanted to work at United, it feels right. But you never know if you’ll be wanted, so when the manager told me there might be a place I was absolutely delighted.” The feeling is mutual.

jon says...
good bye United legend...u'll be missed...beliau menerima tugasan baru di United, dipertanggungjawabkan utk mengurus pasukan simpanan...semoga beliau terus berjaya dlm hidup & thanks for the memories...who puts the ball into germans net?

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