Talk of revenge filled the air when fate decided that Germany’s Bayern Munich and Manchester United should meet in a blockbuster quarter final during this weeks European Champions League draw. The two glamour clubs had produced that dramatic 1999 Nou Camp final where United completed a historic treble in the dying seconds of a game which appeared certain to reward Bayerns almost entire 90 minutes of dominance with a deserved 1-0 victory until football proved that miracles can and do happen!
The 1999 Champions of Europe was itself a team of champions who managed to do what had previously been thought to be impossible. Winning the Premier League is difficult enough for most clubs – just look at Liverpool, yet United not only won the title, they also added the FA Cup and the Champions League to it in one, incredible season.
Most of the thirteen players who took part in that unforgettable game eleven years ago have now retired from playing football but a handful of them are still involved in the game so let’s have a quick look at what they’re now doing.
Peter Schmeichel: Retired from English football at the end of that that season but then came back to play for Aston Villa and eventually finishing his career with Manchester City. In 2008 he became the host of the European version of the Discovery Channel programme, Dirty Jobs. His 24 year old son Kasper is following in Peters goalkeeping footsteps having been signed by Notts County in 2009
Gary Neville: Still at United and still just as passionate. He recovered from a number of lengthy injuries and is trying to add a ninth Premiership winning medal to his already large collection.
Jaap Stam: Despite being one of the best defenders in the world, Stam was dumped from Old Trafford at the peak of his powers after writing a book whilst still at the club which included the revelation that Ferguson had apparently tapped him up while he was at PSV Eindhoven. He was promptly sold to Lazio where he failed a drugs test, got banned, moved to AC Milan upon his return from suspension then ended his career back in Holland with Ajax. Stam is now back working for United as a scout in South America.
Ronny Johnsen: The vastly under rated central defender retired from football in 2005 after relatively successful spells first at Aston Villa then Newcastle. He then had a change of mind, moving back to Norway to play for Vålerenga. He finally hung up his boots in 2008.
Denis Irwin: The quiet achiever who holds legendary status at the club after over 500 appearances and a glitteringly career. One of the best full backs of his generation transferred to Wolves in 2002 before retiring at the age of 38. He now works as a pundit on MUTV, hosting “The Big Match”.
Ryan Giggs: Needs no introduction. The only United player to have played in all 11 Premier League winning and surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 758 appearances for Manchester United in May 2008 to become the club’s all time leader. He is still going strong chasing more honours for the club and himself.
Nicky Butt: Regarded by some media pundits as the heart of the England team. Butt was destined to be in the shadow of captain Roy Keane at United, moved to Newcastle in 2004 where he’s still playing at the age of 35.
David Beckham: Left United in 2003 after being hit in the face by a magical flying shoe after which he continued to prove his doubters wrong whilst gracing the famous fields of the Bernabeu, the San Siro and the LA Hope Depot Center
Jesper Blomqvist: Usually used as a left sided cover for Ryan Giggs, Blomqvist didn’t play for United in the seasons following the treble due to a serious knee injury. Despite this Ferguson somehow managed to flog him to Everton. He eventually moved back to Sweden before retiring in 2005 but returned to playing football in 2008. He’s now assistant manager of Swedish side Hammarby.
Andy Cole: Continued to shine for United, breaking Dennis Law’s European goal record before being sold to Blackburn in 2001. He went on to play for several clubs, regularly scoring for all of them before retiring in 2008 while at Nottingham Forest. An occasional pundit on MUTV and on Sky, he still lives in his Cheshire home near most of his old United colleagues. Is now coaching strikers for old teammates Paul Ince at MK Dons and Lee Clark at Huddersfield.
Dwight Yorke: Despite a hat trick in the 6-1 rout of Arsenal,Yorke fell foul of Ferguson and first moved to Blackburn Rovers then to Birmibgham City. He then accepted an offer in Australia to become the marquee player for Sydney FC. He returned to England with Sunderland to work with former team mate Roy Keane.
THE SUBS IN THE FINAL
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Injury spoilt much of his remaining career at United, but he continued to score frequently whenever he was called upon. Has gained legendary status at the club not only for his on field exploits, but also for his backing of MUST during the Glazer takeover. Currently the Reserve Team coach at Old Trafford helping to groom the future stars.
Teddy Sheringham: Went on to peak at the age of 35 by winning the PFA and FWA Player of the Year awards in 2001. Moved back to Spurs at the end of the season and continued to play in the top flight until he was 41. Ended his career at Colchester in 2007 and now occasionally works as a pundit during ITV’s Champions League coverage.
What are your memories of that night in Barcelona?