Manchester United legend Gary Neville has revealed what his first impressions were of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when he first joined the Red Devils. Solskjaer signed for United in 1996 from Norwegian club Molde aged 23. The current United boss went on to become a club legend and is most fondly remembered for his last-gasp winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final.
But former right-back Neville claims he thought Solskjaer was a competition winner when he first walked into the club’s old training ground after signing.
“The one that stands out for me is the first time that Ole ever walked into the changing room at The Cliff in ’96, ’97, something like that,” Neville said on Sky Sports’ Off Script podcast.
“And honestly he walked in with what I can only describe as, think of a jumper from the 1970s in Yorkshire.
“Woolen, bubbly, you’re thinking ‘What’s this?’. Honestly, no word of a lie, I genuinely thought he must have won a competition like as a fan from Norway or something.
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“He walked in, he looked about nine, he walked in and he was like [very] thin, he had this jumper on which, I always mention to him this jumper.”
However, Neville admits it did not take long for Solskjaer to prove him wrong in training.
He continued: “And then after about a week in training, I remember we were playing a small-sided game and I don’t know if you remember Ole’s technique of scoring a goal when he was in short spaces.
“He would take it to the side and then he would push it back, pull it back through your legs into the far corner and I’m thinking ‘He’s a bit more clever than he looks’.
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“I remember [Peter] Schmeichel hated it when a goal used to go through a defender’s legs.
“He always used to say ‘close your legs, don’t open your legs’ for a defender and Ole always used to get the ball between your legs and fire it into the far corner.
“First time he did it I’m thinking ‘oh’, second time I thought ‘right’ and the third time you’re thinking ‘he’s pretty good at this’.
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“He was the biggest surprise to me in terms of somebody who just didn’t look like he could form part of our squad.
“[Eric] Cantona was there, Schmeichel, [Roy] Keane, [Steve] Bruce was still there probably – they were beasts.
“And you saw this young lad come in and you thought ‘There’s no way he can compete in this’ and he was absolutely fantastic. His technical ability was unbelievable.”
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