Manchester United have had some fantastic players over the years, and none more so then Northern Irishman, Norman Whiteside.
Whiteside, signed as a schoolboy by the club, would go on to achieve cult hero status from the Stretford End, as the no nonsense midfielder/attacker, would go about his business in an all action manner.
NW was just shy of his 17th birthday in 1982, when he made his debut for United, down on the seaside coast of Brighton. What followed was that Whiteside would soon become the youngest ever player in which to score for United, a League cup final and FA cup final.
Storming Norman, scoring just a week after his 17th birthday, made him the youngest scorer in United’s history. More was to follow. A howitzer of a goal in the semi final of the FA cup against Arsenal, would propel United into the final in 1983. A replay was required after a 2-2 draw with Brighton. The return game proved one step too far for the Seagulls as the Red Devils crushed them 4-0. Whiteside, scoring to become the youngest scorer in an FA cup final.
And if one cup final record wasn’t enough, another sits proudly alongside it. Scoring in the 2-1 defeat to bitter rivals, Liverpool, in the League cup of 1983, meant that again, NW was to hold an enviable record, although in bitter sweet circumstances.
A troubled knee and a ruptured achillies, would see Whiteside’s involvement with the team diminish and as Alex Ferguson was appointed to replace Ron Atkinson in 1986, a change in culture would see Whiteside head down the Road to Everton in 1988/89.
NW would be forced to retire at the age of 26. A career robbed by an unfortunate injury, similar to the story of Marco Van Basten. Sadly in football, you can’t function without your knees.
Whiteside’s record at United read 274 games and 67 goals. An impressive return for a player who suffered with such injuries.
I would like to thank Norman for first giving up his time to answer a few questions, and secondly for the FA cup goals, League cup goals, the goals against Liverpool, Arsenal and the rest. Much appreciated.
I managed to grab a few words with Norman.
How old was you when you first heard of Manchester United’s interest, and how did the transfer come about?
I was 13 years old when I first went to Old Trafford when the famous Belfast talent scout Bod Bishop (who also spotted George Best and Samy McIlroy) invited me over.
Who did you first room with on Away games?
I think my first room mate was Stevie Coppell then after him it was usually Big Paul McGrath.
What was your finest goal in a United shirt?
Joint 1st favourites are 1983 FA Cup semi final against Arsenal 2-1 at Villa Park and the other is the 1985 FA Cup Final goal 1-0 winner against Everton.
Who was the best player that you played with at United?
Robbo was the best player in the Country throughout the 1980’s
Best moment in a United shirt?
Too many – got a lot. debut, youngest scorer youngest captain, 3 Wembley final goals.
Worst moment in a United shirt?
Playing my last game for the club.
Which player at the club never fulfilled their potential, during your time there?
Quite a few
Is it true that Bryan Robson would sink a dozen pints in the evening and be leading the training sessions?
What do you think was the difference between playing under Big Ron Atkinson, and then Sir Alex?
Ron was more care free and Fergie was more detailed
If you hadn’t made it as a footballer, what would you have liked to have done?
An accountant ??
Favourite stadium to have played in?
Is Ole at the wheel?
Work in progress
Norman, thank you for your time.
Norman Whiteside can be found at Old Trafford on a regular basis, escorting folk around the stadium on the ‘Legends’ tour. Get yourself booked on and go and meet the big man for yourself.