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Robbo: It’s always a privilege to play at Old Trafford

We caught up with United legend, former club captain and all-round fan-favourite Bryan Robson as he prepares to manage a team of Red legends against Celtic in September.

| by Nathan Thomas

Bryan, exciting news that United Legends will be taking on Celtic in September, how does it feel to be returning once again as manager?

I love being involved in these games and it’s always a joy to get the lads back together – when we do, it’s like we’ve never been away. We’re going to have some top players on show who’ve done brilliantly for this football club. They might have retired, but on every occasion I have managed these matches, the commitment has been nothing short of 100% - you never lose that edge. It’s an opportunity for the fans to come down, enjoy these players once again, have a great day with their family and support the Foundation.

United and Celtic have only played each other four times in competitive games, despite being two huge clubs…

It’s really surprising, but hopefully that adds an extra element of excitement for this game. The two clubs have a close shared history having been the first Scottish and English teams to win the European Cup in 1967 and 1968 respectively, and we’ve also seen some big names represent both sides such as Paddy Crerand, Lou Macari and Roy Keane, which gives the clubs a bit of a history and shared respect between us.

I certainly felt that at my testimonial game back in 1990, when 22,000 Celtic fans came down to Old Trafford. It made for a fantastic night, and a great atmosphere, though I’m not going to tell you what the score was! Quite a few of the other boys [Brian McClair, Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane] also had their testimonial matches against Celtic and I think they liked how there was a rivalry, but a good friendship and sportsmanship between the two clubs. Their fans always travel in numbers.

Do you think we’ll see a similar kind of turnout and atmosphere on the 7th?

Absolutely! I have no doubt. There will be plenty of green and white in Manchester on that day and I’m sure they will make a corner of town an honorary part of Glasgow for the day! Just like our fans, they are so passionate about their club and I’m looking forward to seeing both sets of supporters mingle, chatting football and enjoying a good game.


The match will help to raise funds to support the community work of the Foundation, that you have supported for many years. What makes you passionate about what we do and keeps you coming back?


Everyone knows about the history of this club and how we have always given opportunities to young lads coming through. What the Foundation does brilliantly is give this opportunity - in different ways such as education and work opportunities - to ordinary kids in Greater Manchester, and now further afield. I think it’s really important for us as ex-players to help promote and support this, giving something back to the club that gave us a platform to do well. A lot of people benefit from the work the Foundation does and we have to remember this as it’s a really important part of this football club.

Do you see it as a bit of an obligation, as a former club captain, to pull these teams together and get a younger generation of players to get involved?

United is a special club and we should see it as a privilege that we can come back and play, but also help a lot of people by doing so. As a former United player, why would you not want to get involved! Throughout the years we’ve had fantastic support from so many players: David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Edwin Van Der Sar, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to name but a few, and last time - against Liverpool - we had some new faces in Patrice Evra, Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia. It’s great to see the support we get from the lads and if I can play a part in helping to make it happen it’s a small thing for me to do.


What do you find is the most enjoyable element of returning to Old Trafford for these matches?


You know, I’d have to say that you can’t beat being in a competitive game again. Whether you’re standing behind the white line, like me, or back on the pitch, it’s always special to be back. When you retire, you miss that buzz, you miss the dressing room camaraderie and of course you miss the support of the fans in the stands. So yes, the game is for charity and to raise money for an important cause, but as I’ve touched on, we all want to win and send the fans home happy.

Speaking of the fans, what can they expect from the day?

I like to think that these games give the chance for fans who might not ordinarily come to Old Trafford to experience a matchday. It’s a family day, and we encourage everyone to come along, but I also like to think that we can still provide the same kind of excitement and passion that people get from watching the likes of Bruno and Marcus on a Saturday. It's a really good day for youngsters, with plenty of activities taking place around the stadium on the day; it’s one for everybody to enjoy and I’m sure it’s going to be another special day.


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