Never in Manchester United history was so much owed by so many to so few as when substitutes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham in tandem together wrote soccer poetry with their feet in the Champions League final versus Bayern Munich in 1999. Indeed, the match against the German club was to become the pinnacle of Solskjaer’s long and illustrious footballing career.
Born in the small town of Kristiansund on February 26th 1973, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer began his playing career with local club Clausenengen. Even though the Manchester United faithful hardly raised an eyebrow when he arrived in Manchester in 1996, it did not take long for the supporters to realise the club had unearthed a real find. A no-nonsense performer with a powerful work ethic, his drive and determination inspired his Old Trafford team-mates and put fear into opponents. Scoring several crucial goals for Manchester United during the 1996/97 campaign, Solskjaer finished as the club’s top scorer with 18 League goals in his very first season at The Theatre of Dreams.
Although the Norwegian striker had his soccer career cut short by injuries in 2007, he stayed with the Old Trafford club and eventually took over the reigns of the Manchester United Reserves the following year. As for the international stage, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made his first appearance for Norway in a friendly against Jamaica in Kingston on 26 November 1995, and went on to collect a total of 67 senior caps for his native country. In honour of the loyal Manchester United stalwart, a fully deserved testimonial game was staged against Espanyol in front of an incredible 68,000 crowd at Old Trafford in August 2008.
After finding the back of the net on his Manchester United debut at home to Blackburn Rovers in August 1996, the Norway international proceeded to make a total of 366 outings for the Manchester Reds, scoring 126 goals. Indisputably, the highlight of Solskjaer’s footballing life came in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final when he netted the winning goal against Bayern Munich in the last minute of the match, winning the coveted Treble for Manchester United.
In retrospect, the prodigious Norseman was no doubt one of the most significant footballing servants ever to pull on the famous red shirt in Manchester United history. Sir Alex Ferguson has without doubt had some notable success in the transfer market in the past, and the £1.5 million he paid Norwegian outfit Molde to sign Solskjaer seems like a complete bargain by today’s prices.
«We had to score some goals after the pressure we had. It’s unbelievable and it’s very difficult to describe how I feel just now. But if people still wonder why I stay at Manchester United they can see why. The team spirit, it is unbelievable.» – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer quote.