PETER Schmeichel is well qualified to pass judgment on anything about the Barclays Premier League. After all, the former Manchester United goalkeeper does not only hold the record for the greatest clean sheets-to-games ratio in the Premier League with 42% of the games he played in the league ending without his team conceding but won five FA Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, and a UEFA Champions League title. In this exclusive interview, Schmeichel talks about the exciting moments during his career and what the Barclays ‘Thank You campaign’ is all about.
What’s this ‘Thank you’ campaign about Barclays and Global/Asian fans about?
You see the Premiership is so popular. It’s one of the biggest projects in the world. I have seen that everywhere I have travelled in countries like Ghana, Kenya and so many others the reception is incredible.
Reading what people go through to watch Barclays Premiership games in incredible.
Because of all this passion from the fans around the globe, Asia and everywhere else, the Barclays campaign is basically to thank all people for supporting the league and I am really proud to be part of it.
Why do Premiership clubs embark on tours in Asia in pre-season and not at home in England?
We can’t run away from the commercial aspects but the other reason is to take the clubs closer to the fans that support them.
Not every fan will go to Old Trafford so what United will try to do is take Old Trafford close to the fans. It’s important to make fans appreciate what their clubs and players do.
What makes the English Premiership so exciting?
The quality and money invested in it. There is no doubt that the Barclays Premiership is the most popular around the globe. It has grown from strength to strength. Man United will play Stoke City this Saturday but Stoke will come to Old Trafford thinking this is a game we can win. That’s the mentality across the league and that’s the difference with the other leagues in Europe. Teams believe they can win anywhere.
You get entertainment value. The teams’ efforts to try and win are appreciated. But they also have money, so they are able to also buy exciting players.
When you suddenly retired, Man United fans were not sure the club would replace you. How do you rate the current young goalkeepers at United?
De Gea has done fantastically well. When he first arrived at Old Trafford, the media took the opportunity to hurl insults at Sir Alex Ferguson for the choice and De Gea was also criticised and ridiculed but he has grown now and become a fantastic goal keeper.
He has made fantastic saves since and I don’t think there is a better keeper in the league now.
During your stint at United, you of course played behind decent defenders. Is there any you would say was your best?
I played behind fantastic defenders both at club and country.
At United, the Steve Bruce-Gary Pallister defensive partnership was the best. They were brave and so committed. Bruce stopped the ball with anything. He was so brave.
But I must say during my final years at United, Jap Stam was probably the best. He was awesome. He was quick and strong. He was so reliable and felt secure with him that sometimes I would have gone to sleep.
Any striker you would highlight as the most clinical you have ever faced?
No one. When you are a goalkeeper, you cannot afford to think of one particular opponent. If you begin identifying one and get scared then you are finished. You need to appreciate the entire team rather than individual players and that is what I did.
It allows you watch the movement of all players (opponents) so that you are in good position to save everything or any danger
What’s your take on former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson?
Sir Alex was an unbelievable person. What he achieved as a manager will be unrivalled. He should be credited for what the Barclays Premier League is all about now.
As a manager, he inspired or helped so many others try to catch up. He raised the bar that every other manager strived to reach. The quality of the league is all down to him. He is the biggest football manager the world will ever see.
Do you think David Moyes was the right manager to take over at United?
Moyes was a good choice. What we don’t know now is how well he is going to perform. That’s the exciting bit. But looking at his personality and what he achieved during his 10 years at Everton, he will do well.
He only needs time to know the players well before he starts delivering.
Peter Schmeichel was speaking at the launch of the new global advert for the Barclays Thank You campaign. This season Barclays is saying thank you to all the dedicated African fans for their support in making the Barclays Premier League what it is. To view the film from Saturday morning, please visit www.youtube.com/ barclaysfootballtv