Beattie relishing United trip
James Beattie is relishing the prospect of facing Man Utd in the UEFA Champions League next week.
Last Updated: 12/09/10 10:47am
James Beattie is relishing the prospect of facing Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League next week.
Rangers travel to Old Trafford this week for their opening game of the group stages.
The 'Battle of Britain' clash - which you can see live on Sky Sports HD2 - is a mouth-watering prospect and Beattie admits that this sort of game is one of the reasons why he opted to move to Ibrox from Stoke this summer.
"The fact Rangers would be playing in the Champions League was obviously pointed out to me when I was signing. It was something that was very important to me," he told the News of the World.
"When the draw was made I was sitting with Vladimir Weiss and there were pots with Real Madrid, Inter, Manchester United and Valencia and we both said we would settle for any of them.
"To be playing Champions League football at my age is very good and it is something I am looking forward to very much.
"I played in the Uefa Cup with Southampton, then played and scored in the Champions League qualifiers with Everton against Villarreal.
"But we were knocked out in the return leg in controversial circumstances when referee Pierluigi Collina disallowed a perfectly good Duncan Ferguson goal.
"But going to Old Trafford in the Champions League will be that extra bit special
"I have played United there nine times now but I still haven't scored at Old Trafford, which has been pointed out to me.
"I've hit the bar a couple of times, once on my birthday, and I hit it again playing for England there - ironically enough against Liechtenstein.
"That England game was the only time I've won at Old Trafford. I played alongside Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen yet we were still drawing 0-0 with Liechtenstein after an hour.
"Fortunately we went on to win 2-0. Scotland discovered for themselves how difficult it can be if teams come and just sit in against you and make themselves hard to break down.
"It's something you probably see a lot at Ibrox and I'm going to experience for myself.
"I even heard a story about a Scottish team coming to play Rangers and setting themselves up in a 4-6-0 formation but I haven't seen that for myself yet!"
Beattie himself was once very strongly linked with a move to United, when in the 2003 season he finished as the top scoring Englishman in the Premier League with Southampton.
"I heard a few years ago, when I was doing well at Southampton, that Sir Alex was maybe having a look at me, but that was about it really," he continued.
"I think they went out and signed Cristiano Ronaldo instead!
"I was only a goal or two away from winning the Premiership's Golden Boot award that year so perhaps there was something in it.
"There was Ruud van Nistelrooy, Thierry Henry and then me all trying to finish as the Premiership's top scorer, so it wasn't bad company to be keeping.
"I went on to sign for Everton but I used to drive past Old Trafford quite a lot because I lived in Manchester, and still have my house there.
"I would always look across to Old Trafford and have a little thought to myself.
"I'm from Blackburn and a Blackburn fan. But when I was a youngster, Manchester United were always the biggest team and the one that you grew up in the playground wanting to play for.
"Then when you're older and have been playing football for a while, you can't help imagining it must be a special place to play your football."