Former Manchester United defender, Phil Bardsley, reflects on growing up in Salford, playing for United and the influence of Ryan Giggs.

“In Salford where I grew up everybody knows everybody. We used to live on the streets as kids playing football. And everybody knew who you were,” Bardsley said. “If I got up to mischief it always got back to my mum and dad in a flash. But it was a great place to be brought up. I am probably more street-wise than some. But I enjoy life and part of that came from my upbringing. I always had a ball in my hand when I was a kid. I was always kicking it against any wall going. But then I got the chance to join United at eight – it was every schoolboy’s dream. I was playing for my local side Charlestown and United were looking at another player on a Sunday morning. They spotted me. We both went to United but he didn’t make the grade, but here I am. My friends have been my friends since I went to nursery with them. And my dad is friends with his mates who have been there all his life. That is the chain it develops. It is very close-knit, but a great place to be brought up and I get back there whenever I can. It is dominated by Man United fans but there were a couple of City supporters who get loads of stick.”

Ahead of Sunderland’s match against City at the weekend, Bardsley reflects on his feelings for the blues.

“It is great to see Man City buying big players and becoming a threat to the top teams in the Premier League but in terms of challenging United they have got a few years to go yet,” he added. “Trophies on the table underline your achievements both in the Premier League and in Europe and Man United have conquered that for the last 15 years. Until Man City do that I don’t think you can compare the two. I am saying that with a red hat on. It is great to play against Man City and it will always be my biggest game wherever I am. I will never forget the derby games at United and it is no different being somewhere else and playing against them.”

Bardsley then went on to talk about man of the moment, Ryan Giggs, who’s from the same neck of the woods as himself.

“I suppose I idolised Roy Keane at Old Trafford because he was the skipper but Ryan Giggs always helped me along the way at United,” he continued. “I suppose it had something to do with us being from the same place – Salford. On tours and whenever we were away he was always the first to offer to help. He has been a massive influence on my career and just watching how he trained and conducted himself he is someone every young lad should look up to. He is still brilliant to watch and they say now that if he doesn’t play then United don’t play. That doesn’t surprise me one little bit. For me he is the greatest player to have ever graced the Premier League.”