Manchester United hero Denis Irwin on his upcoming trip to Dubai

He’s appearing at a fan event in the city later this month

Manchester United hero Denis Irwin on his upcoming trip to Dubai

Quick question: which left-back has scored the most goals for Manchester United in the Premier League era? Patrice Evra, Phil Neville, Ashley Young or Denis Irwin?

Answer: Denis Irwin. In fact, his tally of 33 is more than the other three, combined. Almost.

Plus, his trophy haul of seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and the 1999 Champions League is unmatched by the others. Words like “legend” and “hero” are bandied about all too often, but in Irwin’s case they’re fitting. Even though names like Giggs, Scholes, Cantona and Schmeichel take the plaudits, he was instrumental in transforming United into the global powerhouse it is. And, alongside two others who spearheaded the club’s success under Sir Alex Ferguson, he’s coming to Dubai to tell fans all about it.

Irwin will join former strike partners Dwight Yorke and Andrew Cole for an #ILOVEUNITED supporters event later this month (Sunday April 28). The treble-winning trio will watch United’s crunch clash with Chelsea on Sunday April 28 at Soho Beach DXB shoulder to shoulder with supporters.

Speaking ahead of the celebration, Irwin told Time Out Dubai about the importance of connecting with some of the 659 million fans United boast around the world, the chances of beating Chelsea in the race for fourth place in the Premier League and what he makes of his former teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being at the wheel.

As a regular visitor to the city, Irwin relishes the chance to mix with the global fan base as a United ambassador.

“I have been to Dubai many times,” he says. “It’s a place I enjoy visiting with the club but also on holiday with my family. It has everything, amazing hotels and restaurants – pretty much guaranteed weather, something you don’t get in Manchester.

“It’s a vibrant place and seems to have new things to see and do every time I visit. We have great support in Dubai and we are all looking forward to meeting our fans.

“We’ll be doing pre- and post-match analysis, as well as sharing some stories about our time at United, answering questions from fans. It’s a great opportunity for fans to come together and watch the game as a group, show their support for the club and cheer on the team.”

He adds: “When you are playing I don’t think you fully take in and appreciate the size of the club and the scale of the support you have. To be able to go back and really take the time to meet fans and engage with them is a great experience. Manchester United have millions of fans all over the world and I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can visit many different places and meet these fans.”

The free event is set to be a nervy affair as Ole’s team hunt a crucial top four league position against Chelsea, who are fighting for the same goal. However, having watched Ole steer the team to victories over Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and PSG, Irwin’s confident United can do the same again to Chelsea.

He adds, “Games against Chelsea are always competitive and it should be an entertaining match. We seem to have done well against the top teams recently and these are the kind of games the players and the manager will relish. We both have some tough games beforehand, but I think we always have a chance against them. It has been great to see Ole take the reins at the club and there is no denying he has done a great job so far.”

And as for what Ole’s done to the club, Irwin has nothing but praise for the Norwegian. “He said that his remit was to get the players to have some fun and enjoy playing and he seems to have done that,” he says.

“Having played under Sir Alex and having won so many titles and accolades he has a wealth of experience as a player as well as a manager that he can pass on to the team. He knows what it takes to play for a club like Manchester United and the responsibility that brings with it.”

#ILOVEUNITED is free to attend and fans can apply online for tickets online no later than April 17. Applications will then be entered into a ballot, with tickets issued at random.

The race for fourth place is on.
Free (ticket application needed), closes Apr 17. Apr 28, times TBC. Soho Beach DXB, Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba, www.manutd.com/iloveunited.

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