Manchester United’s 10-0 victory against Anderlecht in 1956 remains the English club’s biggest European win and the Belgian side’s record loss, but it is not the only time the Mauves have been overwhelmed in Manchester. Back in 2000/01, the teams were paired in the UEFA Champions League group stage and United, European champions in 1999, looked back to their best in a 5-1 triumph.
1 Ryan Giggs
The most decorated player in United’s history. Between debuting as a 17-year-old in 1991 and hanging up his boots in 2014 aged 40, he amassed 34 trophies at Old Trafford, scoring 168 goals in a record 963 appearances. The Welshman started out as a skilful, fleet-footed left-winger but as his career progressed he migrated into a more central role. “If Giggs was French, Robert Pirès or myself would have been on the bench,” reckons Zinédine Zidane. Giggs became an assistant coach at Old Trafford before leaving last summer.
2 Andy Cole
“I’ve lived the dream,” Cole said upon retiring in 2008. Once on Arsenal’s books, the electric striker made his name at Newcastle, forging a prolific partnership with Peter Beardsley before a shock switch to Old Trafford in 1995. He won five league titles with United, and his 53-goal partnership with Dwight Yorke underpinned United’s 1998/99 treble. He departed in 2001 for spells at Blackburn and Manchester City among others. Cole has since had a brief pop career and is now a property owner and ambassador at United.
3 Denis Irwin
Described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “pound-for-pound” his best signing, full-back Denis Irwin was a constant presence in Manchester United line-ups from 1990 to 2002. The Irishman was quiet and unassuming in teams that were not, but he was universally admired. “In any team of the decade, the full-back slots are nailed down,” quipped ex-Liverpool defender Alan Hansen. “Denis Irwin at right-back, Denis Irwin at left-back.” Since retiring in 2004 he has worked in the media and remains heavily involved at Old Trafford.
4 David Beckham
One of the most recognisable footballers of the last three decades, Beckham enjoyed high-profile success at United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and, to a lesser degree, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. A member of United’s feted ‘Class of ’92’, he became a household name after scoring from halfway against Wimbledon on the opening day of the 1996/97 season. Twenty years on he remains so. The former England skipper, capped 115 times, retired in 2013 and, now 41, remains in the public eye as an ambassador, model and club owner.
5 Paul Scholes
Xavi Hernández’s inspiration and the man Zidane regretted never playing alongside, Scholes was one of the most cultured midfielders of his generation. Quiet off the pitch, he did all his talking on it for United, his only employers. Over a career spanning 18 years, the Englishman compiled 11 league championships, three FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League winners’ medals. He is now a TV pundit, newspaper columnist and, with Giggs, Gary and Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, part-owner of Salford City.
6 Teddy Sheringham
It was Sheringham who snatched the UEFA Champions League out of Bayern München’s grasp for United in 1999 with a last-gasp goal and the assist for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s dramatic winner. At 33, it looked like one final hurrah for the England man, but he was still playing nine years later. A versatile forward, he bagged over 100 goals for Millwall and Tottenham and since, retiring in 2008, he has worked as a coach and poker player.
United host Anderlecht in the second leg of their quarter-final on Thursday, with kick-off at 21:05CET.
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