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Denis Irwin recalls infamous clash between Eric Cantona and Turkish riot police

Turkish football grounds are notoriously hostile places to go and Denis Irwin found that out in no uncertain terms when Manchester United travelled to face Galatasaray in 1993.

Manchester United were playing just their third Champions League game since the 1960s when they made their first-ever trip to Istanbul for the Champions League clash.

Intimidation from the Turkish fans was anticipated but none of the United players could have predicted the scene that greeted them at the Ali Sami Yen stadium.

Alex Ferguson

The game itself finished 0-0, eliminating United due to the away goals scored by Galatasaray at Old Trafford, but that’s when it all kicked off.

The supporters hurled projectiles at the Red Devils players before an altercation took place between Eric Cantona, the visitors’ talisman, and local riot police.

“The game only really became interesting after the final whistle!” Irwin told

“We got pelted with objects by the fans and I think Eric decided to have a fight with the riot police, which didn’t go down too well! We were on our way down the stairs and he had an altercation with one of the riot police.

“I think Robbo was first in there to help, really just to get Eric out of there, because we weren’t going to win any situation there. It just added to the whole trip, I suppose, with the disappointment at going out and what happened at the end.

Denis Irwin

“Not that it was finished then, either. A few bricks were thrown at the bus after the game. It was just one thing after another.

“They were in great spirits after the game because they’d upset the applecart and knocked the great Manchester United out of the European Cup, but it was just mad, it really was.

“When you go into any away game, normally there’s a group of home fans who’ll give you a bit of stick on the way in. That’s part and parcel of it. This went a lot further than all that.

“The whole trip was a huge learning curve, because it was our first time back into the European Cup, so it was a huge learning curve and it came so quick. It’s a memory that will always be there because of the atmosphere alone, but at the time it gave us lessons to learn from.”

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