“He’s the best full-back in Britain, by far.” Ferguson rated Denis Irwin extremely highly.
It’s fitting that in 12 years of playing at Manchester United, Alex Ferguson can only remember one mistake that Denis Irwin ever made for the team.
In his second autobiography, written with Paul Hayward, Ferguson said: “Now there was a player, Denis Irwin. We always called him eight out of ten Denis. So quick and nimble: quick-brained. Never let you down. There was never any bad publicity with him.”
According to the former United manager, Irwin made the only error of his Red Devils career against Arsenal and it resulted in a late goal from Dennis Bergkamp. However, Ferguson instantly forgave him.
“I remember a game at Arsenal when Denis allowed Dennis Bergkamp to score late in the match, and the press said: ‘Well, you’ll be disappointed with Denis.’
“I replied: ‘Aye, well, he’s been with me for eight or nine years and he’s never made a mistake, I think we can forgive him one.”
If you’re looking for insight into just how highly-rated Denis Irwin was, Ferguson said “he’s the best full-back in Britain, by far. He has two great feet, his understanding of the game is marvellous. He has good pace, he’s good in the air for height. He delivers tremendous shots from outside the box, he’s just a great all-round player and is so underrated”
You can view that particular interview that was uploaded to YouTube below and it’s very hard to argue with Ferguson’s logic.
Irwin started his career with Leeds United and joined Man United from Oldham Athletic in 1990 for just £625,000. It would prove to be one of Ferguson’s finest pieces of transfer business and something that Jack Charlton took great pride in.
The Irishman slotted straight into the team. He was an expert free-kick and penalty-taker and ended up netting an impressive 33 goals for the Red Devils.
Irwin played 529 times for Man United and Ferguson also said, if he was picking his all-time Manchester United XI, Irwin would be the one player guaranteed a place in the side.
During his career at Old Trafford, the defender was a crucial part of the club’s greatest successes during the 1990s which saw United win seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the European Cup Winners Cup, the Champions League and the League Cup.
Denis Irwin would later be voted into the Premier League team of the decade and now regularly features in all-time Premier League XIs.
One hell of a player.