Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's footballing firsts at Manchester United

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Last Updated: 07/12/19 5:27pm

Tubes sits down with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to talk about his firsts in football
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Tubes sits down with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to talk about his firsts in football

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sits down with Soccer AM's Tubes to discuss his footballing firsts at Old Trafford…

Solskjaer arrived in Manchester in 1996 as an unknown, fresh-faced 23-year-old but went on etch his name in the club's history books, famously scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final and securing six Premier League and two FA Cup winners' medals.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Manchester derby, which is live on Sky Sports Premier League, Solskjaer reflects on how eating fish and chips with Fergie started a remarkable journey that would see him take charge of the club…

First contact with Manchester United?

"I played a game for Norway against Azerbaijan and I scored two decent goals. The scout was there watching Ronny Johnsen and it was one of those lucky situations. The scout rang the gaffer (Sir Alex Ferguson) and said I was there and that there was nothing to lose.

"The club made contact through my agent and I flew over to Old Trafford and I had lunch with Sir Alex, we had fish and chips if I remember rightly.

"He told me that I would have six months in the reserves and that there was plenty of time and he would wait for me. I don't think he had time to watch me, it was a very quick decision that had to be made because there were a few other clubs floating around. But when United came, I said yes straight away."

First day in training?

"I was nervous, very nervous going into the training ground. Nicky Butt was the first player I met, and he took me down to the dressing room. I soon realised that they were all just normal boys, normal boys that played football better than the average man.

"I practiced my French in preparation for saying hello to Eric Cantona but he was late that day, so I wasn't introduced to him before the session.

"I never managed to do a proper introduction, but he accepted me there and then because I had a decent training session. We bonded really well, me and Eric."

First Manchester United appearance?

Solskjaer came off the bench to make his Manchester United debut against Blackburn at Old Trafford in August 1996 and secured a point for his new club within six minutes of being on the field…

"I played for the reserves on a Friday night at Boundary Park against Oldham, we won 3-1 and I scored two goals. It was the same night as the first team played against Everton, they drew 2-2. That was my first appearance, but my first for the first team came the following weekend against Blackburn.

"I came on because we were trailing and needed to score goals, and I did. Jordi Cruyff flicked the ball on, I volleyed it towards goal - it wasn't the best volley - Tim Flowers saved it and I scored the rebound.

"It was six minutes after I came on, I turned around and the first one celebrating was Cantona. That was a surreal moment."

First-day nerves?

"The one place I feel at home is on the pitch, I was not nervous whatsoever. I know I can score goals, I still do! That was my strength. There was nothing better than getting rid of a ball as quickly as you can into the net."

First trophy at Manchester United?

"We won the Premier League in my first season and that was the first trophy I won as a player. That was unbelievable. We won it by not playing, I think Liverpool drew with Wimbledon, and then it was party time.

"When you get the taste for it you just want more. It can go both ways, though, I've seen players win it and then switch off. It was an unbelievable feeling but for the boys it was just normal, they were used to winning whereas I wasn't.

"The manager always made sure we had a proper party where you celebrate and get it over and done with."

First Manchester derby?

"I honestly cannot remember. When I came, Manchester City were not in the Premier League and it took a few years for them to come up. I remember in 1999, when we won the Treble, they got promoted into what is now the Championship.

"I don't have too many good memories of playing against City in derbies. I remember losing the last one at Maine Road, I scored but we lost 3-1. I didn't score in a win against Manchester City.

"I actually scored against Peter Schmeichel, who should have never have played for City anyway. That's another story."

First day back as United manager?

Solskjaer made a sensational return to Old Trafford in December 2018 as caretaker manager following the sacking of Jose Mourinho. He would go on to win his opening eight games that secured him the job on a permanent basis...

"Butterflies, definitely. I was so proud, very proud. I had been away from the club for eight years. I had coached a few of the players but many of them I had watched from afar and admired.

"You know you can only live off your reputation for a certain amount of time, you have to go in and make an impact and make sure you arrive confident, because that's what the squad needed. Deep inside I was a bit nervous, but it went OK.

"The first couple of days were surreal. I knew everyone having played and coached at the club and it was just about picking everyone up, because it wasn't a happy place.

"When you lose a manager it's never going to be easy for anyone, I had to come in and make a positive impact and we started well. We've got good players and it was about letting them express themselves."