Peter Schmeichel has reflected on his decision to leave Manchester United at the peak of his powers, following the dramatic conclusion of the 1999 Treble success.
The Great Dane played a key role in the success of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, who clinched the Premier League and FA Cup titles before producing a remarkable comeback in the dying minutes to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Schmeichel opted to join Portuguese side Sporting CP at the end of the season, but he explained in the latest issue of FourFourTwo - which you can order here - that ending his time at Old Trafford on a low wasn’t on his mind as the clock counted down with his team trailing 1-0.
“I wasn’t thinking about that,” he says now. “To be honest, I can’t remember what I was thinking at that moment – I probably wasn’t thinking about anything! But what we learned that season, and in many seasons before that, was that games last 90 minutes, plus whatever the referee added on.
“In those extra minutes, a lot can change. Teams think they’re near the end and get nervous, and we piled on the pressure, going into risk mode.”
There is no greater risk than the goalkeeper racing upfield for a corner in the 91st minute, but that was what Schmeichel did, as he had done at home to Rotor Volgograd four years earlier.
“When I went up, it wasn’t necessarily to score myself, but to generate havoc and confusion,” he reveals.
“You come up against very well-organised teams, but I’m sure they don’t talk about the keeper coming forward for corners. It can create chaos.”
The custodian, who was captain that night in place of the suspended Roy Keane, would leave United by lifting the Champions League to complete a remarkable Treble.
“That felt so good, it really did,” he admits. “You can carry on winning the same thing for the next two, three or four years, or you can leave the way I left. What’s best? I actually don’t know. But I’m happy with everything.”
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