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|02-10-2009, 09:38 AM||#1|
[Legend] Sammy McIlroy
Debuts don't come much more unnerving than the Manchester derby, but the 17 year-old Sammy McIlroy came through his baptism of fire with flying colours Ė scoring once and assisting twice at Maine Road to instantly endear himself to the United faithful.
The Northern Irish winger was Matt Busbyís final signing at Old Trafford, penning amateur forms with United in August 1969. He turned professional two years later before his derby bow on November 6, 1971.
His emphatic entrance to the first-team setup didnít seal a regular starting berth, and McIlroy largely remained a substitute for the next year.
Seriously injured in a car accident in January 1973, he fought his way back into the team against all odds the following season to earn himself a regular place in the starting line-up.
That season ended with the gloom of relegation, but McIlroy was a permanent and crucial fixture in the side that secured an instant return to the top flight. His domestic importance was matched on the international scene, and he went on to win 88 caps for Northern Ireland.
Sammy remained an integral part of the Reds side which went to Wembley three times in four years in the late 1970s. He tasted heartbreak in the 1976 and 1979 defeats to Southampton and Arsenal, although he did score a fine equaliser in the latter final. That disappointment sandwiched Unitedís 2-1 win over Liverpool in 1977, the only major honour of Sammyís 11-year Reds career.
Ron Atkinson sold McIlroy to Stoke City for £350,000 in 1982. Three years later he moved back to Manchester to join City on a free transfer before moving into management.
Spells with Northwich Victoria, Ashton United and Macclesfield Town preceded the role of Northern Ireland boss, before Sammy took over at Stockport County.
In 2005/06 he was appointed caretaker and then permanent manager at Nationwide Conference club Morecambe.
|02-10-2009, 09:44 AM||#2|
Re: [Legend] Sammy McIlroy
01/10/2009 10:46 - ManUtd.com, Adam Bostock
McIlroy on the spot
Reds legend Sammy McIlroy answers questions posted at manutd.com/talkingreds...
What or who inspired you to play for United? from Zonqor
Thatís an easy one - George Best. When I was growing up in Belfast in the 1960s, he was just coming onto the scene at United. He was a fantastic footballer. All the young kids in the street wanted to try and copy what George was doing with the ball and I was no different. He was a great influence on me supporting and wanting to play for United.
What gave you the greatest pleasure, winning at Wembley with Morecambe in 2007 or doing it with United in 1977? from Wayne Theobald
It was absolutely fantastic to win the Conference play-off final and take Morecambe into the Football League as their manager. Then I cast my mind back to winning the 1977 FA Cup final as a United player Ė also fantastic, because we beat a great Liverpool side and stopped them doing the Treble. Choosing between the two experiences is very difficult.
If you could sign one United player from the past and one from the present for Morecambe (my home-town team), who would you pick? from Carole (dono2)
That's a hard one! Iím leaving out many fantastic players of course, but if I can only pick two, it would be Best and Wayne Rooney. Wayne is a brilliant player and I love his energy and his enthusiasm. Heís still only young and Iím sure heís going to go on and be one of the greatest players United have ever had.
You started off as a striker but then became a midfielder for United. How did the transition work for you and what were the reasons behind it? from Himann
I came into the side as a striker under Sir Matt Busby and then Frank OíFarrell. I also played up front in Tommy Dochertyís early days when I had a great understanding with Stuart Pearson. Then we signed Jimmy Greenhoff from Stoke City and the Doc moved me into midfield when Gerry Daly left the club. I enjoyed it there because I was more involved in the game and I was lucky enough to have the fitness I needed to get up and down the pitch.
What was the best thing about being a pro footballer in the 1970s? from Pugan Raul
People talk about the money that top players are on today and it bears no comparison to our era, although we were still on decent wages compared to the working public. I thought it was a fantastic time to play football in the 1970s, especially at United. I was lucky enough to be at United for 13 years and to have a great rapport with the fans. The club was beginning to attract a worldwide following and it was great to be around at that time.
Who was your best friend in the squad during your United days? from Sacha Red Devil
We all got on well together as a squad but my closest friends were probably Jimmy Nicholl, David McCreery, Arthur Albiston and Brian Greenhoff.
Who was the toughest defender you played against and why? from Riad Rahamatullah
I was lucky enough - if you can call it lucky - to have played against the infamous hard men like Ron ĎChopperí Harris, Norman Hunter and Tommy Smith, all at the latter stages of their careers. But Iíd say it was a player called Kevin Beattie from Ipswich. He was a fantastic defender, great in the air and strong as an ox. Had an injury not curtailed his career, Iím sure he would have gone on to win a record number of caps for England.
|02-10-2009, 09:48 AM||#3|
Re: [Legend] Sammy McIlroy
Do you think Mark Hughes, my favourite United player of all time, is good enough to succeed Sir Alex? Will the fact heís at City be a problem? from Kilkenny man
I think we should forget about the United-City issue because there have been many men over the years whoíve been at both clubs like Denis Law, Brian Kidd, John Gidman and myself. What United fans want is a manager who can come and continue what Sir Alex has done. Thatís going to be an unbelievable task. Mark Hughes is in a situation now where heís got the funds to have a go at winning the league. If heís successful at City, and he takes them into Europe, then he could be an option as I think you need European experience to be the next United manager. It is possible, it all depends on how successful he is at City.
Following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure, I would love to see Nani step up to the plate. Do you think he has what it takes? from rr united
Naniís a fantastically skilful player but I think he needs to have a more regular spot in the side to get the best out of him. Thereís no doubt the abilityís there and Iím sure weíll see more of that if he has a run of games. But I think itís unfair to try and put him in Ronaldoís shoes because, like George Best, heís a one-off.
What was the difference between playing for United and City? from Matt Cornejo
It was a massive difference. Some City fans didnít take to me as the last of the Busby Babes to come through at United. I also had an unfortunate time with an Achilles injury, I ended up having three operations and the City fans didnít see the best of me. Playing for United had always been my dream, they were the happiest 13 years of my career as a player.
Coming from the home of the great Georgie Best, did you feel any added pressure when you first broke into Sir Matt's first team? from Nathan Scholes
No, although you can understand why people wondered if Iíd be ďthe next George BestĒ, being a young boy who came out of Northern Ireland and into the United team. But my father and other people around me kept my feet firmly on the ground, reminding me there could only be one George Best and encouraging me to be my own man. There was no way I would ever think of myself in that mould anyway because Best, for me, was the greatest player in the world and no-one could touch him. I just wanted to get on with my own career.
Do you think Steve Coppell would have been one of the best midfielders of all time if it hadn't been for the injury that cut his career short? from Cyprus Red Devil
We had two wingers in those days Ė Steve Coppell and Gordon Hill, and they were opposites in terms of their approach. Gordon was flamboyant and would score goals from all angles with his fantastic left foot. Stevie would work up and down the line like a Trojan, his fitness level was fantastic. Had it not been for that knee injury, Iím sure he would have had a long and rewarding career. He was great to play with and a fantastic lad.
The 1977 team had class, flair and great attacking skill. Do you share my belief that you would have won the title had the Doc not been sacked? from Ernie Bernady, Luxembourg
Thatís a great question. That was a fantastic side to play in and I think the Doc was going to add some players to the squad after we won the FA Cup in 1977. Unfortunately itís only ifs and buts now but I do believe that team, if the squad had been strengthened in a couple of areas, could have made a real challenge for the league title. I think all the players were shocked when the Doc was sacked but it was an embarrassing situation because Laurie Brown, a great fella, also worked with us as our physio. (Docherty was having an affair with Brown's wife). Something had to be done and unfortunately the Doc lost his job.
What do you say to the kids who dream night and day of playing for United? from Cashs29
I dreamed of playing for United and was fortunate enough to make it happen. If the kids out there have the will and the dedication, and they listen to their coaches, then maybe their dream will come true. Theyíll be very, very lucky boys if it does happen because there are so many who never get the chance. But if they do get the chance, Iíd say grasp it and enjoy it because itís a fantastic club to play for.
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