Club Legends #13 – Peter Schmeichel

Schmeichel

By Ollie Cranham-Young

  • Schmeichel made 393 appearances for United
  • Winning 5 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cup, Champions League and a League Cup

This time in our legends section we look at a goalkeeper for the first time, arguably United’s greatest ever keeper. Peter Schmeichel played for United between 1991 and 1999, making 393 appearances.

Peter Schmeichel was born in Gladsaxe, Copenhagen on the 18th November 1963 in Denmark.

Schmeichel began playing football at the age of 8 in 1972 and in the same year was approached by Hoje-Gladsaxe to feature in their youth team.

After spending three years with the side, he left to further his youth career by playing for fellow Copenhagen side Gladsaxe-Hero and Schmeichel eventually started his senior career with the side making 46 appearances.

However after 3 years with Gladsaxe-Hero he left to join another Danish side Hvidovre. He subsequently made 78 appearances for them scoring an amazing 6 goals, incredible for a goalkeeper.

In 1985, Hvidovre finished in 14th place and were relegated. Despite this the following season Schmeichel helped the side to return instantly to the First Division but Schmeichel left the club for Danish runners-up Brondby in 1987.

He won the Danish league in his first year and made his debut for the Denmark national team at the end of the same season in May 1987.

He established himself as Denmark’s starting goalkeeper as he was selected by his manager Sepp Pointek to feature in Euro 88 and subsequently helped Denmark to win Euro 92 four years later.

By the end of his career at Brondby, Schmeichel had helped them to win four league titles in five years.

He helped Brondby reach the  UEFA Cup semi-finals in 1991 only to be knocked out by AS Roma thanks to a last minute goal from Rudi Voller.

Schmeichel joins United

Schmeichel signed for Manchester United on the 6th August 1991 for £505,000. Nine years later, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was to describe it as the “bargain of the century”.

He played for United for eight years in total helping them to achieve five league titles, three FA Cups, one league cup and the coveted UEFA Champions League title in 1999 which was the pinnacle of his footballing career.

In Schmeichel’s first season at the club United finished as runners-up and United won the League Cup for the first time.

In the same year, he helped Denmark to win Euro 92 emerging as one of the world’s best keepers and this did not go unnoticed as he was named “The World’s Best Goalkeeper 1992”.

Helps United to first title success in 26 years

Schmeichel kept 22 clean sheets in the year United won the Premier League in his second season with United.

This ended United’s 26 year wait for a league title. He was again named “The World’s Best Goalkeeper” in 1993 for the second consecutive year.

Schmeichel then went on to help United win the Premier League for a second time in the 1993-1994 season.

Schmeichel
Schmeichel celebrates being a double Premier League champion with Manchester United

Despite being a goalkeeper, Schmeichel was known for going up for corners, most infamously in the Champions League Final of 1999 against German side Bayern Munich.

However prior to this, in 1995 he scored a goal from a corner kick in a 1995 UEFA Cup match against Rotor Volgograd but United were eliminated from the tournament due to away goals.

Schmeichel was Denmark’s first choice keeper for Euro 96 hosted in England as well despite going out in the group stage this time around.

Schmeichel also featured in the following international tournament for Denmark in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in which Denmark reached the Quarter-Finals under management of Bo Johansson.

The greatest final act

Following this, Schmeichel’s United career and ultimately footballing career culminated when he contributed to United winning the historic treble in 1999.

The treble saw United win the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in one single season.

Possibly Schmeichel’s most vital save in his whole footballing career was when he prevented Denis Bergkamp’s last minute penalty in the FA Cup Semi-Final replay against Arsenal reaching the back of the net.

This penalty save forced the game to extra time, and United eventually won the tie 2-1 after the greatest FA Cup goal of all-time from Ryan Giggs.

United captain at the time Roy Keane was suspended from playing in the Champions League Final a couple of weeks later so Schmeichel captained the side.

He ended his United career on the highest possible note, helping them to defeat Bayern Munich in the last two minutes and Schmeichel was shown cartwheeling in his penalty box as he reacted to Solskjaer winning goal.

He and manager Sir Alex Ferguson lifted the trophy for United that night.

Schmeichel and Sir Alex Ferguson lift the Champions League trophy in 99
Schmeichel and Sir Alex Ferguson lift the Champions League trophy in 99

Schmeichel left the club after the treble-winning season and United struggled to find a replacement.

United went through Mark Bosnich, Massimo Taibi, Fabien Barthez, Tim Howard and Roy Carroll before eventually buying Edwin van Der Sar from Fulham.

Schmeichel left the club in 1999, with a 60 game season proving too demanding for him at the age of 36 and he left for Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.

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