Class of 99

Geoff Shreeves speaks to Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Last Updated: 12/02/13 at 19:01

Manchester United's legendary strike-force of 1999 are permanently etched into the rich history of the Premier League giants.

Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all made key contributions to the most successful season in the club's history as Sir Alex Ferguson's men lifted the UEFA Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup over 11 glorious days in May.

Ferguson has hinted that his current crop of forwards - Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck - are the closest he has come to matching the famous four of 14 years ago.

Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves has spoken exclusively and extensively to the 'Class of 99' about their memories of that season, how they worked together as partnerships, coping with the competition for places and their opinions of the men who are now filling their boots.

We never played together, virtually all week. We didn't work on anything, we were just two natural people doing what they believed was right on the football pitch.
Andy Cole

Solskjaer will forever be regarded as the team's super-sub, with his contribution from the bench at Camp Nou securing European glory for the Red Devils, although he reveals to Shreeves that he has never watched the entire match since.

Sheringham was also on target as United snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Bayern Munich with two injury-time goals, but the former England international admits that his form had been poor for long periods of the 1998/99 season until the dramatic denouement.

Yorke and Cole were regularly Ferguson's first-choice pairing for the key games and enjoyed an almost telepathic understanding at times, although Cole insists that their on-field unity did not come from training ground practice, as they were often pitted against each other.

Two natural people

One goal which stands out is Cole's strike against Barcelona in a 3-3 draw in their Champions League meeting in November 1998, but he told Sky Sports: "Everyone really talks about the one against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. People say 'it must have been rehearsed, you must have done that in training'.

"The majority of time in training we played on opposite teams - that was the crazy thing. Come Friday, we used to play England v Rest of the World. We never played together, virtually all week. We didn't work on anything, we were just two natural people doing what they believed was right on the football pitch."

Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lift the Champions League trophy

Yorke was always aware that Sheringham and Solskjaer were waiting in the wings to step into the side, and he feels the competition for starting spots kept everyone at the top of their game.

He said: "That is the beauty of being at United, you have to be on your toes every game, every training session, if you're not that is the sort of quality waiting in the wings to take your place.

"Whenever they were called upon they were ready to pounce and they were ready to take opportunities. It was very difficult to keep those guys happy, they stayed there because they liked the challenge."

I realise now I was a fantastic sub for him. He wanted me to work for 20 minutes like it was a full 90. I had 20 minutes to put 90 minutes work in.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

With the benefit of hindsight, Solskjaer accepts that he slotted into Ferguson's plans to perfection, giving the United boss 100 per cent commitment when he was called on from the bench.

Fantastic sub

He admitted: "You want to play all the time, but I always respected the players I had with me. I realise now I was a fantastic sub for him. He wanted me to work for 20 minutes like it was a full 90. I had 20 minutes to put 90 minutes work in.

"It was just in me to do my best whenever I could."

Sheringham's memories of the campaign are perhaps the least fond, with the former England international admitting the campaign, which ended on such a high, was perhaps bitter-sweet due to what had gone before.

He said: "It was a very frustrating season for me. For Manchester United it was fantastic, but for me, personally, up until the last two weeks of the season I was very frustrated.

"I got three goals up until that stage. I lost my place, couldn't get in the side, it was only until the last two weeks of the season I started the last game. I was rested for the FA Cup final and came on after six minutes, then didn't get a place in the starting line-up for the Champions League final and then came on and scored a goal in that.

"It was a delightful ending for me, but frustrating all the way through."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

t all started going downhill when they started putting a photo of the writer along side their story. Journalists started to think that 'they' are the story, rather than what they write. Smug, self obsessed & up their own arse's. That sums up the majority of newspaper sports reporters.

cozens
Do We Need So Much Football Media?

T

he reason so much sh*t is written about football is because there are so many people who want to read sh*t about football. Now shut up, take my money, and tell me Ronaldo is going to sign for Van Haal and that Mick McCarthy is signing Peter Crouch on loan.

hump3.
Do We Need So Much Football Media?

W

enger's delaying tactics in the transfer market creates goose pimples whenever a player is linked to Arsenal. The approach in buying players need to be changed@@#

mokaya
New striker 'on Wenger's list'

Footer 365

Louis Van Gaal vows to walk away in 2017

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is determined to win the Premier League in the next two seasons but will retire in 2017 regardless.

Sergio Romero signs for Manchester United on three-year deal

Manchester United have signed Argentina international goalkeeper Sergio Romero on a three-year contract.

Bastian Schweinsteiger fitness boost for Manchester United

Manchester United have been handed a lift on their pre-season tour with the sight of Bastian Schweinsteiger training again.

Mail Box

Only Arsenal Fans Care About Friendlies

We are not entirely surprised after Arsenal fans leapt to the defence of friendlies. We also have mails on Louis van Gaal, Liverpool and more mundane tales...

Friendlies: Still Completely Meaningless

There is sharp message for anyone thinking about getting excited about friendlies, plus worries about Wayne Rooney. Every one of you has met a bloody footballer...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company