Club Legends #14 – Denis Irwin

Denis Irwin

By Andy Hyslop

  • Joined United in summer of 1990
  • 529 appearances over twelve seasons
  • Won 15 major honours in his time at Old Trafford

Denis Joseph Irwin was Manchester United’s Mr Reliable for twelve seasons between 1990 and 2002. The full-back made 529 appearances for United and helped the club win 15 major honours.

Irwin joined United on June 8 1990, joining from North-West rivals Oldham Athletic for a fee of £625,000. Irwin will forever be remembered as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most astute signings.

Irwin caught the eye of Ferguson while playing for Oldham against United in the 1990 FA Cup semi-finals.

Irwin was equally adept at either right-back or left-back.

The Irishman scored 33 goals in his twelve season with United against Norwich City on September 7 1991 in the old First Division. Irwin scored crucial goals for United including many free-kicks.

First season First trophy

Manchester United knocked Oldham and Irwin out of the FA Cup in the semi-finals and went on to lift the trophy. Meaning they would play in the European Cup Winners Cup in his first season with United.

Irwin made six appearances in the competition as United went on to win the Cup Winners Cup with a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the final.

Irwin was named in the starting line-up for final. Mark Hughes scored both goals as United beat Barcelona on May 15 1991 to win their first European trophy since the 1968 European Cup success.

Less than a month before the success over Barcelona. Irwin and his team-mates missed out winning the League Cup, losing 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday in the final.

First of seven Premier League winners medals

Irwin’s second season with United was the final season of the old First Division and United finished second to Leeds United. They did though pick up silverware in the shape of the League Cup, beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the final.

Denis Irwin helped United to seven Premier League titles following the inception of the new league at the beginning of 1992/93 season.

United won the league in it’s inaugural season, their first league title since Sir Matt Busby’s team won the First Division in 1967.

Irwin was an ever-present as United won the league in the 1992/93 season and chipped in with five league goals including the winner against Coventry City in April 1993.

Irwin made 62 appearances in the 1993/94 season as United clinched a league and FA Cup double for the first time in their history.

Integral part of Treble winning team

United and Irwin added two more Premier League titles and a FA Cup winning before the historic treble winning season of 1998/99.

Irwin continued to be an integral part of the United team and was an important member of the treble winning squad.

In the 1998/99 season Irwin made 48 appearances and contributed three goals as United won the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Despite missing the FA Cup due to suspension following a red card received against Liverpool in a 2-2 draw at Anfield. Irwin was awarded a winners medal after appearing in every round on the road to Wembley.

Irwin made 12 appearances in the Champions League including the final against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp. The Champions League win was Irwin’s third European winners medal in his time with United.

The Premier League success in 1998/99 was the first of three successive titles for Irwin and United, with the last of those being his seventh and final league winners medal.

His last season with United was the 2001/02. With his final game coming on the final day of that season as United drew 0-0 with Charlton Athletic. Irwin was named United’s captain for the day.

After being granted a free transfer by Sir Alex Ferguson, Irwin joined Wolverhampton Wanderers before retiring at the end of the 2003/04 season.

Life after football

After retiring in 2004, Irwin return to United to work on the club’s in-house TV channel MUTV. You can been seen on the channel on United’s matchday coverage and involved in live coverage of pre-season games.

Irwin can also be seen covering football tournaments for RTE Sport in Ireland.

Irwin is one of several ex-United players to work as ambassadors for the club. Promoting the club around the world. Also playing for the club’s Legends team in charity games.

About Andrew Hyslop 398 Articles

Creator of Sir Alex Ferguson Way and writer of football books

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