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Premier League Hall of Fame: Peter Schmeichel

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2022.

NamePeter Schmeichel
Date of birth18/11/1963
Place of birthGladsaxe, Denmark
Premier League clubsManchester United, Aston Villa, Manchester City
Premier League appearances310
Premier League goals1
Premier League assists5
Premier League clean sheets128
Premier League titles5

An unknown from Denmark

Peter Schmeichel is without doubt one of the greatest goalkeepers to have played in the Premier League, but few outside Denmark knew much about him when he signed for Manchester United in 1991.

After beginning his career with his hometown team Gladaxe-Hero and Hvidore, he made the move to Brondby where things started to take off.

Schmeichel won four Danish titles in five years and helped the team to the semi-finals of the Uefa Cup, where they were knocked out by Roma, but United manager Sir Alex Ferguson knew he had got a bargain when he signed the giant for £505,000.

A glittering time at Old Trafford

United finished runners-up to Leeds United in the Schmeichel’s first season at Old Trafford, which was the final campaign of the old First Division, but the new era of the Premier League brought not only glitz and glamour but a new era for the Red Devils as they became the strongest force in the English game.

Schmeichel returned to training that summer having helped Denmark to their unlikely success at the European Championship.

The Danish shotstopper shone that season as he earned 22 clean sheets as United took the title for the first time in 26 years.

More success was to follow with a league and cup double the following season and Schmeichel would be an integral member of the team that dominated for Ferguson in the mid-90s, as they won the Premier League in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.

The crowning glory though was in the 1998-99 campaign when United became the first English club to win the treble of the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League.

Schmeichel saved a last-gasp Dennis Bergkamp penalty in their FA Cup semi-final win over Arsenal and his final game for the club was the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Barcelona when injury-time goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave them a 2-1 victory.

Off to Portugal then back to Villa

Schmeichel had announced he would leave the club that summer and was said to be looking for a slower pace of football as he had struggled to keep up with United’s hectic fixture schedule.

He moved to Portugal to join Sporting Lisbon and they won the league in his first season, but the second campaign was less successful and he returned to England to play for Aston Villa.

It was while playing for the Birmingham outfit that he set his own piece of history by becoming the first goalkeeper to score in a Premier League match, a 3-2 defeat at Everton. The feat has been accomplished five times since.

However, he was there for just a season and he fell down the pecking order under Graham Taylor, who had replaced John Gregory and preferred Peter Encklemann between the posts.

The other side of Manchester

He then made the surprise move to sign for Manchester City, who were then managed by Kevin Keegan, to the dismay of some United fans, including his former team-mate Gary Neville.

Schmeichel did gain the satisfaction of beating United at Maine Road and drawing with them at Old Trafford which meant that he never lost a Manchester derby, and he retired in 2003.

Playing style

Most football fans will remember what an imposing figure Schmeichel was in his area and he was the master at stopping his opponents in one-on-one situations.

He was a huge physical presence and he used a star-jump method of keeping the ball out, something he said he developed from playing handball.

His distribution was also famous and his ability to throw the ball huge distances was an integral part of United’s attacking strategy as the ball was quickly hurled to wide areas so players such as Andrei Kanchelskis and Ryan Giggs could utilise their pace.

Life after football

After his retirement, Schmeichel became a regular pundit on Match of the Day and also hosted Champions League coverage in Denmark alongside his former national-team colleagues Preben Elkjaer and Brian Laurup.

He also hosted other shows on Danish TV and took part in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing show in 2006.

Did you know?

There was a time when Schmeichel could have played for Poland. His father was a Polish jazz musician and he didn’t gain Danish citizenship until he was eight years old.

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