Player profiles make a return and it’s a good one. I got into football in the mid-90s aged about 5 and if you were asked to pick a team of the decade for that era of football most people would pick this man to wear the number 1 shirt. The Great Dane – Peter Schmeichel
Name: Peter Boleslaw Schmeichel
Date of Birth: 18th November 1963
International Caps/Goals: 129/1
One of the best shot stoppers of his generation began his career aged 18 at the fantastically named Gladsaxe-Hero in his home town of Gladsaxe, Denmark. He appeared 46 times for the club over a 3 year period before a move to Hvidovre. He spent another 3 years at the top divison club playing 78 goals and, in an indicator of his general footballing ability, scoring 6 times. In 1987 Hvidovre were relegated and the 24 year old Schmeichel was snapped up by Danish giants Brondby. The club won the league title in Schmeichel’s first season and his performances earned him a call up to the Danish national team for the 1988 European championships, and once he’d got his foot in the door at international level nobody was taking the number 1 shirt from him. He won the Danish title 3 times during his 4 year spell at Brondby and also helped his team reach the semi-finals of the UEFA cup. I imagine we’ll never see something like that again. In 1991 Schmeichel made the move that would define his career, to Manchester United for £505,000.
He quickly established himself as an incredible talent. The sheer size of the man just seemed to intimidate strikers and the ball seemed to be drawn towards him. Following his 1st season in England Denmark were drafted in to Euro 1992 to take the place of Yugoslavia who were in the midst of a terrible conflict. Having made it in to the tournament Denmark went on to win the entire thing, Schmeichel saved a Marco Van Basten penalty in the semi-final and kept a clean sheet in the final against Germany as the Danes won 2-0. Fresh off that success Schmeichel returned to the Premiership and was in fantastic form, keeping 22 clean sheets over the course of the season. This sort of success was near constant; during his United career he won 5 league titles, 3 FA cups, as well as the Champions league and League cup. Schmeichel was crucial to their success; a good keeper can win you 7 or 8 points a season. Schmeichel probably won Alex Ferguson’s men double that. Some of the saves he would make could only be made by him and nobody else. He made bad defenders good and good defenders great. He also had the ability to do stuff like this when coming forward for a corner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRbKPiC8Wbc
Now admittedly he’s offside in that particular example, but the confusion he could create in defences by arriving in the box was enormous and with the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs taking the corners confusion was all that was needed for a decent chance to be created.
Schmeichel’s final season at Old Trafford was his most successful as the side won a historic treble. As you would expect Schmeichel was crucial, saving a penalty in the FA cup semi-final against Arsenal and putting in a number of high quality performances. Following the season’s climax the now 36 year old Schmeichel was sold to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, leaving a holed at United that I don’t think we properly filled until Edwin Van Der Sar arrived in 2005. Schmeichel helped his side claim the domestic title in the 1999-2000 season. During his time in Portugal he continued playing at the international level, scoring a penalty in a friendly v Belgium
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt-CrDla3Og (skip to 3:00 on the video for Schmeichel’s goal)
He made a return to the Premier league with Aston Villa in 2001 for 1 season that was notable for the fact that he helped Villa win the Intertoto cup and that he became the 1st goalkeeper to score in the premiership with this goal against Everton: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNHfclJ6rtM
Also the fact that the commentator asks if Schmeichel will “make a name for himself” is quite funny. The Dane ended his playing career with a 1 year stint back in Manchester, but in the blue half, playing 29 games for the pre-moneybags Manchester City.
So there we have it, possibly the greatest goalkeeper ever. Although, it has to be said though; definitely not the best singer ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCAmZ9cOaoc