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‘It has sat with me for so long’ – Andy Cole recalls the Man United defeat that still stings

Andy Cole

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“I can’t even watch it back.”

At his peak, Andy Cole was one of the most feared strikers the Premier League has ever seen.

Having scored for fun during his two-year spell at Newcastle United, Cole joined Manchester United in January 1995 for a then British record fee.

Although Cole’s first half-season at Old Trafford ended in dismay, as United lost out on the Premier League and FA Cup to Blackburn Rovers and Everton respectively, the England striker would go on to enjoy a hugely successful spell under Alex Ferguson.

Andy Cole

Cole won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League with United. During the Treble season, he formed a devastating partnership with Dwight Yorke, with the pair scoring 53 goals between them as United conquered the domestic and continental scene.

Cole left United in December 2001 to join Blackburn, and while his good memories undoubtedly outweigh the bad, there is one defeat during his time as a Red Devil that still stings to this day.

While appearing on talkSPORT, Cole spoke of the comparisons between Bruno Fernandes and Eric Cantona.

‘When people ask me about it, I do get cheesed off.’

And when asked about the Frenchman’s decision to retire in 1997, he brought up the defeat that continues to haunt him, 23 years on.

“I think we were all very surprised [about Cantona’s retirement], and maybe the bitter disappointment of us going out of the European Cup that year,” said Cole.

“To this day, it still upsets me now, I’m not going to lie. When people ask me about it, I do get cheesed off.

“We lost to Dortmund in the semis – I don’t know how we lost to Dortmund, I’ll be brutally honest, over two legs.

Andy Cole

“I can’t even watch it back. I get frustrated, I really do get upset about it.”

The 1996/97 season yielded mixed results for United. While they clinched the league title for the fourth time in the space of five seasons under Fergie, they suffered early exits in the FA Cup and League Cup.

Those domestic disappointments did, however, allow them to focus on achieving Ferguson’s ultimate goal: winning the Champions League.

However, United fell short in the semi-finals as Dortmund ran out 2-0 aggregate winners before going on to beat Juventus in the final.

United extinguished the pain of that result two years later, of course, when they stunned Bayern Munich in the ’99 Champions League final to complete the Treble.

‘We played better than them over two legs’ – Cole

But even despite that, Cole admits he has never been able to fully exorcise that Dortmund defeat from his mind.

“Nah, I don’t care about that now [the trophies he won with United], because this Dortmund game has sat with me for so long, and it’s cheesed me off for so many years,” he added.

“We played better than them over the two legs. We lost to them in the semis, Dortmund went on to beat Juventus in the final.

“We were all bitterly disappointed, I think we knew just how good we were and how unlucky we were not to have gone through.”

Ferguson himself illustrated the pain felt around United in his first autobiography, Managing My Life, while discussing that Dortmund game, calling the two-legged tie an ‘earthquake of disappointment.’

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