Road To United
Starting at Brondby FC as a professional footballer, Peter Schmeichel successively won 4 championships out of the 5 he played for them. And in 1991, he was voted the 10th best Goalkeeper in the world. That season, he was instrumental in taking Brondby to the Semi-Finals of UEFA Cup. Keeping goals out of his net and getting them past FC Torpedo Moscow in the penalties. That was the last season at Brondby after which he was signed by Alex Ferguson who remarked after signing him as the:
Bargain of the century.
At a little over half-a-million pounds, it was surely an inspired buy.
We fans are finicky in a way that we remember the World Cup winners but not the Euro winners. And 1992 belonged to Denmark and one of the main players spearheading that was Peter Schmeichel. Ironically, Denmark never qualified for the Euros but they replaced Yugoslavia who were under UN Sanctions.
The group stages saw them progress with a loss to Sweden, draw to England and win against France as runners up to their group. The knock-out stage saw them play against The Netherlands. Peter Schmeichel’s wonderful goalkeeping through the match got them a level scoreline at at extra time after saving a close range shot from their opponents. The penalty shootout saw the Dutch player van Basten’s kick saved by the Great Dane letting them through into the finals.
Again, Schmeichel was at his best; saving multiple shots from the Germans and putting a great display before the Danes scored their goals. Denmark ended up winning 2-0 against Germany, earning them the 1992 Euro trophy. Each of the match report in the UEFA website show how important Schmeichel was for his national team. His exploits during the 98/99 season gave him the title of ‘The World’s best Goalkeeper of 1992’.
After the Euros, Schmeichel led United’s quest to win the first Premier League after 26 years with 22 clean sheets in the 92/93 season. Season after season he was instrumental in keeping United’s defense strong and organized. Schmeichel was extremely strong in commanding the penalty box and organizing the defence. That and his awesome presence at the goal was indeed a formidable sight. He even scored for United against Volgograd in the UEFA cup.
Revisiting the Treble Year
Getting to watch the 98/99 season live on TV would’ve been a brilliant gift but sadly, I can’t. Instead, I rewatched the season review of the greatest United season ever. Thanks to really shady defence we let the goals in but as the season progressed, things started to change. Clean sheets began showing up giving us the league.
penalty.It was not all of that in league but the UEFA and the FA cup that counted. Barcelona, Inter Milan and Juventus; so many extraordinary saves and push-aways to keep the score in favor of United. It was sheer brilliance. The pick of the matches would be the one against Arsenal; it gets remembered for the superb goal from Giggs. But before that, 2 reflex saves from Peter; one from the penalty and the second from a distance helped us seal the deal to get the FA cup.
Match after match, he was phenomenal in his time from 1991 to 1999 at United. Signing off with a Treble, he did all he had to do with United. The treble year was probably his best at United; so many important saves in the Champions League and the premiership. With all of his performances, the Dane will be surely remembered for being a driving force for United. A formidable presence at the back with a goal to boot, he set up and controlled United’s defense superbly.
Looking back, Peter Schmeichel was an integral part of the start of the domination of United in the Premier League. He has become a benchmark for all the goalkeepers signed after that. It is of no wonder that the people SAF signed in that position couldn’t live up to the levels set by the Dane until we got Edwin van Der Sar. But that is a story for another day and another blog post.