Conor McGregor spoke to FIFA.com in an interview that was quite different to what we’ve been used to in recent times, giving us his take on all things football.
For those looking for an insight into his plans for the future as far as fighting are concerned, you’ll find no answers here.
Instead, Conor took some time to speak to governing body FIFA about several notable figures connected to the club he supported as a youngster, Manchester United.
Delving into his memories of following the team in his younger days, he cited Irish legends Denis Irwin and Roy Keane as admirable figures in a team that could have been stacked against any to be found in the sport’s history.
“I was attracted to the success and winning mentality of the club and people surrounded by United. Irish legends like Denis Irwin and Roy Keane were dedicated to their craft and had that winning mentality.
“Roy Keane was one of the best midfielders European football has ever seen. Opponents would be mentally beaten before they’d even stepped on to the pitch to face him. Then they had the don of football at the helm, the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.
“To have that much success over such a long period is remarkable and something I continue to aspire to. And he did it by nurturing youngsters into stars and not by spending and spending and spending like some of these other managers.
“It’s been great to see Sir Alex getting back to full health and continuing to be at the United games. What passion! I wish him and his family all the best.”
As for United’s resurgence of late – despite losing out to Arsenal in their most recent outing in the Premier League – the Solskjaer-era at Old Trafford has gone a long way in reinvigorating the fans.
There have been moments of late drama that had many supporters drawing comparisons to the tenure of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson – something that has not been lost on the former UFC dual-weight champion.
“Ole Gunnar is a special man! I think he’s done an incredible job with United. They have to give him the job permanently. You can feel the pride and passion he has for the club and its history, and see the players honoured to wear the Red Devils crest under him.
“He’s really got the players performing. I think the same as a proud Irish man representing my home country of Ireland. Ole’s at the wheel, tell me how good does it feel!
“Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have been particularly outstanding under him. They are young, confident and fearless athletes who believe in their abilities.
“Look at how Rashford, at 21 years old and having never taken a penalty, after a long delay and with the weight of the world on his shoulders, stepped up and scored against PSG. What a night. Keep going, men!
McGregor’s admiration for Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo has been evident for some time now – both being athletes at the absolute pinnacle of their sports.
At 34, Ronaldo has still been achieving incredible feats on the pitch – with his stunning hat-trick against Atletico amongst the most incredible individual performance we’ve seen in the Champions League in some time.
“Cristiano is a phenomenal athlete, person, and entrepreneur. His all-around discipline, perfectionist attitude, and dedication to his craft is inspiring and has inspired so many young children to play football.
“Just look what he did recently in the Champions League, at 34 years young, a hat-trick under the lights when the pressure was on for all the marbles. And against Atletico Madrid, one of the best defensive sides in Europe. That is inspiring! We are both disciplined athletes at the top of our game.”
Following the former United, Barcelona, and PSG star Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s declaration that McGregor is ‘the Zlatan of mixed martial arts’, the man himself was quick to turn the title straight back onto its creator – despite remaining respectful of the legendary Swede.
I respect Zlatan and his positive-winning-mentality mindset, but let’s get this straight: there is only one Conor McGregor! Zlatan Ibrahimovic is trying to be the Conor McGregor of football – good luck to him. Zlatan and Paul Pogba are welcome to come and train with me whenever they like.”