It takes a certain kind of player to muster up the will and the hunger to carry on playing at the highest level past their 38th birthday. And in Denis Irwin, Sir Alex knew he’d found someone special.

Denis was born in 1965, in Cork, Ireland. He joined United from Oldham Athletic, after impressing in an epic FA Cup semi-final against the Reds. As a reliable left back with an eye for goal, he excelled for both club and country, playing 529 times for United, and earning 56 caps for Ireland. In 12 years at Old Trafford, Mr Dependable became the second most decorated player in the club’s history; cramming his trophy cabinet with seven Premier League winner medals, three FA Cup medals, one Champions League winners medal amongst other silverware from his acclaimed career. He even took home a Championship winners medal when he left United, after helping Wolves return to the top flight, in his penultimate year as a professional footballer. In 2004, he finally hung up his boots and returned to Old Trafford, to present, analyse and discuss all things United for MUTV. And as one of the club’s greatest ever signings, there’s no one better qualified.

“Signed for a bargain £625,000 from Oldham Athletic in 1990, Denis Irwin is regarded by Sir Alex Ferguson as one of his shrewdest signings. The Irish international full-back was a cornerstone of United’s defense during the Reds’ dominance of the 1990s, regularly scoring free-kicks and penalties. A near-flawless defender on either flank, Irwin made over 500 appearances for United in an epic playing career, snaring silverware aplenty. The Irishman was a virtual ever-present in the Reds’ infamous Treble season, and he continued as a first-team fixture until 2002, when he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers. Irwin’s return to Old Trafford the following year as a visiting player provoked a mass outpouring of applause and admiration from the home support, in recognition of a player who contributed as much as anyone to one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.”

United honours: Premier League (7): 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, FA Cup (3): 1994, 1996, 1999, League Cup (1): 1992, Charity Shield (4): 1990, 1993, 1996, 1997, UEFA Champions League (1): 1999, European Cup Winners’ Cup (1): 1991, European Super Cup (1): 1991, Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999