Manchester United’s association with Ireland is a rich one as many great players from both Northern and the Republic of Ireland have pulled on our famous red kit. Even now the likes of John O’Shea, Darron Gibson and Jonny Evans all play important roles in the first team
It has been announced today by the Football Association of Ireland that United will be taking on select XI to mark the opening of Dublin’s new Aviva stadium so I thought I would pay homage to some of the great Irish men that have called Old Trafford home.
There was only going to be one person to start this list off, Roy Keane. United’s most successful captain ever, who in his 12 year spell at Old Trafford would win 7 league titles as well as numerous FA Cups and the Champions League. A tough tackling midfield general, Keane remains my favourite player ever with his never say die attitude.
Ever reliable, Denis Irwin‘s place as United’s greatest ever Left back has only recently come under threat due to the emergence of Patrice Evra. United’s second most decorated player, Irwin could also play right back as well as take free kicks and penalties meaning in his 529 appearances he notched 33 goals.
Maradona? Good, Pele? Better, George Best! Possibly one of the most talented players to ever play at Old Trafford, ‘El Beatle’ was able to create as well as score goals and in the 60s was part of United’s ‘Holy Trinity’ alongside Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton. His goals saw him win numerous league titles as well as the European Cup in 1968 and the European Player of the Year.
Despite a somewhat short United career Paul McGrath was one of the finer centre backs to play for the club. Signed by Ron Atkinson in 1982 McGrath was fast, strong and showed an ability to read the game that made his job that much easier. Although his only trophy at Old Trafford was a the FA Cup in 1985, it was a performance that saw he named man of the match as he marked both Andy Gray and Graeme Sharp out of the game.
Like McGrath, injury plagued Norman Whiteside’s career but when he was fit he was a joy to behold. Breaking the record for the youngest player to appear for the first team on his debut, Whiteside would win the FA Cup twice with United. Physical but skillful Whiteside could score goals but also didn’t mind helping out in midfield and got the winner in the ’85 cup final.