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Monday 15 April 2013

Irwin looking forward to Real Madrid rematch

Former Man Utd defender discusses taking on Real Madrid and the art of penalty taking

Many of Manchester United's treble-winning players will be in action on 2 June when they take on Real Madrid Legends at Old Trafford. Former United full-back Denis Irwin is looking forward to the event and has told us why Teddy Sheringham won't be taking any penalties on the big day...

"I know Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Redondo are coming over, so it all makes for a very good day"
Dennis Irwin

Premierleague.com: Tell us about the match you are involved in?
DI:
Last year the Real Madrid Legends invited us over to play at the Bernabeu for the Real Madrid Foundation and we took a fairly fit squad across and the rematch is on 2 June. It should be a great day - there were 65,000 plus at the Bernabeu - and we’re looking for a big crowd as well; it's all in aid of the Manchester United Foundation.

PL.com: So who will be playing?
DI:
We’ve got a lot of good players lined up, a lot of the treble-winning side, and Madrid are bringing across a very good squad as well. I know Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and [Fernando] Redondo are coming over, so it all makes for a very good day. We got beat 3-2 over there last year, albeit we feel we should have probably got a result, but it was competitive and a lot of players keep their fitness these days, so there's a good tempo to the game. It should be a great day out.

PL.com: What has it been like training for this match, have you been pounding the streets of Manchester?
DI:
Well, I go training anyway, Coley [Andy Cole] and Yorkey [Dwight Yorke], Quentin Fortune, Japp Stam, Jesper Blomqvist – a lot of these lads keep themselves fit anyway, so that's not a problem. And Real Madrid play regularly over there, apparently. They train quite a lot together. Most of the lads are around 40ish, and with players just having finished their careers they tend to keep themselves fit; a lot are dedicated, regular gym-goers so everybody should be in good shape for it.

Robbo's milk-float

PL.com: So you haven’t been running around the streets of Manchester with Bryan Robson chasing you in a milk-float then?
DI:
Ah, you've seen that have you (laughs)? You see, he laughed at me when we did that video because he thought he had the easy job, but it was freezing in Manchester that day and he was the one suffering. But he's a good manager, he organises everything and he played for us a bit as well last year. He's the main man.

PL.com: Who are you most looking forward to playing with?
DI:
The good thing about these is you catch up some old friends. I see a few of the boys around like Yorkey and Coley, but I don't see the likes of Japp Stam, Jesper Blomqvist and Ronny Johnsen that often, so it's nice to catch up with ex-colleagues and find out what they're up to. I don't see much of Teddy [Sheringham] so it'll be nice to see him again. It's good to catch up, reminisce and have a good time. I look forward to the competitive nature of the match as well and the fact it's for a good charity as well - the Manchester United Foundation is great.

PL.com: What do you miss most about playing? Is it the camaraderie, the packed houses...?
DI: It's the dressing room. I think most players will accept they've had their football and enjoyed it but it's strange coming from a dressing room where you've got 20 odd lads having a bit of a craic and then all of a sudden being on your own. That's what hits players the most. It's the dressing room, the craic, the laugh - 20 lads having a good time.

Penalty-taking

You were United's penalty taker for a while, weren't you?
DI:
Only for about three years. It was Brucey [Steve Bruce] first and then Eric Cantona took over and then I only got it because Teddy Sheringham signed for us and missed his first three penalties, including against his old team Spurs. So I took over the penalty duties.

"Sheringham won’t be taking a penalty at Old Trafford – he’s lost his chance"
Dennis Irwin

PL.com: Did you ever feel nervous taking a penalty?
DI:
Not really. It's all about personality. Some you take are more important than others but it's a confidence thing more than anything.

PL.com: What is the secret to taking a good penalty?
DI:
I don't think there's any secret, there are just different ways of taking them. If you look at Matthew Le Tissier and Cantona; they were coolness personified. They'd even wait until the keeper made a move. I was the other way; I just kept my head down and put my foot through it. I just hit it hard and low to the goalkeeper's right or left but you've got to be able to change because keepers wise up and see things all the time and know which way you’re going to go if you're not too careful. It's a matter of confidence mainly.

PL.com: You mentioned Sheringham missing his first three. He missed one against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last year didn't he? Why didn't you take it?
DI:
I was knackered by then. It was after about 75 minutes and my overlapping runs had gone. It was taking me 10 minutes to get up and 10 minutes to get back so I let him take it. Costly in the end, though. He won't be taking one at Old Trafford - he's lost his chance. No, but he’s a cool customer too, Sheringham. That's the make-up of penalty takers. You get players who are confident enough to side-foot it in because that's the way they are.

Denis Irwin will be playing for Manchester United Legends against Real Madrid Legends at Old Trafford on 2 June. For more information click here

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Key Points

  • Denis Irwin looking forward to Real Madrid rematch
  • United Legends to take on Madrid Legends on 2 June in aid of Manchester Foundation
  • Irwin explains the art of penalty taking