Manchester United and Liverpool legends Lee Sharpe, Keith Gillespie, Jerzy Dudek and Jari Litmanen were at Courts Megastore on 14 Nov to meet with fans as part of the activities surrounding the Castlewood Battle of the Reds between Liverpool Masters and Manchester United Masters. About 100 fans waited in queue for their chance to see their favourite legends up close.

Before the meet and greet though, member of the media and selected fans were given the opportunity to have a chat with the players.  Representing the Red of Merseyside, were all time top scorer for the Finnish national team Jari Litmanen and UEFA Champions League winner Jerzy Dudek. Keith Gillespie and three time Premier League winner Lee Sharpe represented the Red Devils.

Both sides got their match predictions wrong when Sharpe suggested a win for United and Litmanen opting for the modest draw game (we all know how that turned out).

Q: Jari, why did you only stay in Liverpool for a year?

Jari: One and a half seasons to be exact. I liked it at Liverpool alot, but I wasn’t playing as much as I expected so I headed back to Ajax. That was more or less the only reason.

(Liverpool should have probably stuck with Jari who went on to be the Dutch league top scorer in the 1993–94 season with 26 goals.)

Q: Jerzy, you were part of a Champions League winning squad, and its been 10 years since the club won anything of that magnitude. What’s missing?

Jari: A good keeper.

Jerzy Dudek: It’s hard to replicate what Rafa. However Liverpool is now doing well with a good manager and hopefully we get back in to that ‘Top Four’ and start challenging for the Champions League. I honestly don’t know what’s missing.

Q: Do you think Liverpool still has the reputation to pull the big players with the current manager Klopp?

Jerzy: I think Klopp is the manager players would want to play for, so we’ll see how it goes.

Q: For the United players, what do you miss most from your time at the club?

Lee: The Money! But seriously, the dressing room and keeping fit. Doing what you love, playing football with the rest of the lads. You do miss the games, but mostly its the camaraderie. That’s why we like these trips, it rolls back the years… And we get to poke fun at some of the lads for getting fat, like myself!

Keith: Agreed. You can never prepare yourself for that last match or training session. You do miss that dressing room atmosphere the most.

Q: Do you miss Sir Alex Ferguson?

Lee: No (laughing), next question please.

Q: What do you think about the criticism directed at United’s style of play under Louis van Gaal?

Keith: It’s not the Man United way of playing. It’s very slow, possession football. That doesnt get you goals. We’re more accustomed to wing play. It gets pretty boring at times. You don’t get enough shots off.

Jari: You want to have Moyes back?

(Everyone’s laughing at this point but no ones answering Jari’s question… I wonder why)

Lee: Obviously the two teams are playing at a difference pace. When I played under Sir Alex he always said you have to take risks to win football matches. As strict as he was, he did give the creative players the freedom to take chances. I just don’t think that’s happening at the moment, the players are too safe. It’s probably why they’ve got the best defensive record in the league!

Q: So are you guys going for an all out attack tonight?

Lee: We’ve got four strikers and we only brought one central defender with us. That should tell the story of how we’re going to play.

Q: Why do you think Liverpool vs Man United is a special occasion globally?

Jerzy: It’s definitely a special game, perhaps one of the biggest in the world.

Jari: It is common within the most successful clubs of a country. Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain. Ajax and Feyenoord in Holland. Both teams (Liverpool and Man Utd) have a combined total of 38 Domestic titles within themselves.

Q: Who’s the best/favourite player you’ve played with at Liverpool/Man United?

Jari: How much time do we have for this? I really can’t decide because I’ve played with so many good players. Well my greatest Liverpool hero would be Kenny Daglish… although I’ve never played alongside him before.

Jerzy: Steven Gerrard. He impressed me the most. We had a lot of legends in the club, but I think he played with great character. He was never happy, always complaining. But that’s why he’s so successful.

Keith: Eric Cantona, he was the missing part of the puzzle which led to us winning the Premier League title.

Lee: Bryan Robson. He could grab the club by the scruff of the neck and drag it up himself. At times won games on his own. Took care of all the lads on and off the pitch. A true leader, and hardly had a bad game.

Courts-Football-Legends-Paralympic

The legends then went on to meet fans and also met with the Singapore Paralympic Football team, with whom they and shared some words of encouragement for the upcoming ASEAN Para Games next month.

The players were more than happy to meet and have a quick chat with fans with Gillespie and Sharpe deciding that the confines of the stage was a little too stifling and decided to walk the ground instead. I’m sure that made the day for more than a few fans.

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