Gary Pallister is an English former professional footballer, sports television pundit and operations director of Conference National side Darlington.
As a player, he was a defender from 1984 to 2001 and is most noted for his nine-year spell at Manchester United from 1989 until 1998. He also played for Middlesbrough and Darlington and was capped 22 times by England between 1988 and 1996.
A pacy defender with excellent aerial ability and terrific ball control given his towering 6ft 4in frame, Gary Pallister formed half of arguably the greatest central defensive partnership Man Utd has known. With Steve Bruce by his side ‘Dolly and Daisy’, as they were affectionately dubbed, saw off all comers to United’s 18-yard box in a glorious seven-season stint together. Their rock-like presence yielded three Premiership titles (1993, 1994, 1996), two runners-up spots, the 1991 European Cup-Winner’s Cup and Super Cup, three FA Cups (1990, 1994, 1996) and the League Cup of 1992.
Born on the Kent coast in Ramsgate in June 1965, Pallister started his career with non-league Billingham Town and joined the Reds from his boyhood heroes Middlesbrough for £2.3 million in August 1989 – then a record fee for a British defender.
Given a weight-training regime to bulk his skinny body up, the 13th-placed finish of his first season – virtually impossible to conceive of now – was followed by a remarkable run in which United finished outside the top two just once in the next eight campaigns.
An imposing backline, in which Pallister was a permanent fixture (he missed just one league game between 1992 and 1995), proved a cornerstone of this success. He was voted PFA Player of the Year in 1992 and was unlucky not to win more than 22 England caps. After nine years at Old Trafford and 317 league appearances – and a further title success in 1996/97 following Bruce’s departure – Pallister’s career went full circle, leaving United to return to the north-east with Premiership new boys Boro for £2.5 million in the summer of 1998. All that success, and a £200,000 profit!
He has since become a regular TV football pundit, appearing on the BBC and ITV and is still a regular face at Old Trafford, popping up on MUTV as a summariser. And though stopping goals is the thing he will be largely remembered for, his brace of headers for Man Utd against Liverpool at Anfield which all but clinched the 1997 title burns brightly in any self-suspecting Red’s memory bank.
Football Honours won at Manchester United
• Premier League (4): 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97
• FA Cup (3): 1990, 1994, 1996
• Football League Cup (1): 1992
• FA Charity Shield (5): 1990*, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 (* joint holders)
• UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1): 1991
• UEFA Super Cup (1): 1991
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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