Whenever I am introduced to a fellow red, I joke over the amount of time it will take for us to get started talking about 99. We seem to find it impossible to go a night without mentioning that night at the Nou Camp with a United fan we’ve just met. “Where were you?” “Yeh I was still celebrating the first goal when the second one went in, and was confused at the replay too.” We talk of the celebrations, how the match was for the most part pretty naff, how screwed we thought we were when we saw the line up, and exactly what it meant to us. It was the single most amazing evening of our lives. The happiness and emotion we may feel when we pass our driving test, at graduation, on our wedding day, when our child is born etc., may all vary in their degrees of excitement and meaning to us, there are several occasions we may have which we will class “the best day” of our lives…but I can’t see how any event will match the feeling of knowing we were on the brink of winning the European Cup that night. No event will leave me jumping up and down and crying and shouting and losing my mind in quite the way I did that evening.
It is United’s “never say die” attitude that gave us that wonderful day, and it is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who gave us the goal that made it.
We all have our favourite Ole memories, whether it’s him flooring Rob Lee, scoring the goal that knocked the dippers out of the FA Cup in the last minute back in 99, bagging four goals in the final ten minutes against Forest, the 26 goals he scored in 2001-2002, his brave stance in support of SU against the Glazers, or his general love and loyalty to our club and fans. What is undeniable is the legendary status our Ole holds at the club. He is admired for his professionalism and likeability by most outside of Old Trafford, and he is adored inside Old Trafford.
Solskjaer has spoken out about his time at United, thanking the club and fans for all their support. “I would like to thank the manager, the coaching and medical staff and most of all the supporters, who have supported me through my career,” Solskjaer said. “They have been fantastic and were a real inspiration to me when I was out injured. The support the fans and the staff showed me during that time was the main motivation for me making my comeback. I feel proud to have represented Manchester United for 11 years and have some very special memories.”
Like the greats before him, we will sing his name every week at Old Trafford. We will buy shirts for years to come with Solskjaer 20 on the back. We will miss singing “Ole, Ole, Ole” when he runs on to the pitch. We will miss his goal celebrations with the crowd. There are so many things we’re going to miss about the fella, but fortunately, we won’t have to miss him as much as we might, with him staying on at the club. It’s looking as though he will take on a coaching role and even follow in the footsteps of Sir Bobby with an ambassador for the club.
He will go down in our history books, and stories will be passed down for generations about our baby-faced assassin. You will get to say you remember the days when he played for us, and how he saw out his last season helping us to win back our trophy. So, thank you for it all Ole. 20legend.