It’s common knowledge that Ryan Giggs is the most decorated Manchester United player of all time with over 30 winners medals – and still counting. But how many times does the name Denis Irwin spring to mind when asked which player comes closest to Giggs for winning the most honours at the club?
During his time at Old Trafford Irwin made a total of 329 appearances, yielding 33 goals and gathering 13 winners medals. Not at all bad for the left full back with a keen eye for goal who was so often underrated by the media gurus.
It all started when Sir Alex Ferguson captured his signature from Oldham Athletic for £625,000 in 1990 having impressed during that season’s epic FA Cup semi final against the reds. One of the modern Manchester United legends made his debut against Coventry City on the 25th of August 1990 at Old Trafford in the old First Division.
That first 1990-91 season ended with the defeat of Barcelona and European Cup Winners Cup glory in Rotterdam which signaled the start of a Ferguson dynasty that continues to this very day.
Irwins’ glittering 12 year career at Old Trafford came to an end on the 11th of May following the final game of the 2001-02 season in the 0-0 home draw against Charlton Athletic when Ferguson fittingly awarded him the captains armband for his last game as a Manchester United player.
That was the culmination of a United career which brought him so many highlights within highlights. The pinnacle would have had to be the 1998-99 treble completing Nou Camp Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich at the age of 34.
Then there was the 1992-93 triumph of the first ever Premier League in which he was ever present and weighed in with 5 goals. Irwin again never missed a single game during the league and cup double winning campaign of 1993-94, was a corner stone of the side that repeated the double in 1995-96 then captained the side for the final home game of 2000-01 against Derby County – allowing him to hoist the Premier League trophy for his seventh title in his 10th year of service.
A Premier League Team Of The Decade to mark 10 years of competition covering the period from the inaugural 1992-93 season to 2001-02 included Irwin at left full back in a star studded premier league lineup.
His decade long international career for the Republic of Ireland which produced 56 caps must also be remembered. It included being a member of the side that reached the second round of the 1994 World Cup.
Irwin was signed by Wolverhampton Wanderers on a free transfer in July 2002 which led to his new club being promoted. It gave United fans an opportunity to welcome him back to Old Trafford before this Truly Red legend announced his retirement at the age of 38.
Irwin’s links with the club has not been completely severed however as he is back at Old Trafford working as a presenter on MUTV.
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