Kamikaze Pro: Dojo Blog #10

kpro7You know what time it is! Welcome and thank you for checking out Week 10 of my training diary. I am making a late attempt at becoming a professional wrestler. In the UK, a lot of guys start training in their early teens or sometimes even younger. At 24, I guess that makes me the DDP of this ting. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped me giving it my best so far.

If you’ve been following my weekly Dojo Blogs, you will know that for the past few weeks we have been drilling a lot of the same stuff. It’s been difficult for all of us beginners to perfect the basic rolls and bumps. Well this week, business really picked up! Before going into too much detail, I’d have to say this was the best organized and most enjoyable session so far. I spoke to a few other beginners who completely agree. Everyone got to do a lot of really focused work in smaller groups, and I think we all benefited from it.

That positive situation seemed largely down to the inclusion of a new trainer – Dan Moloney. I’ve seen this guy wrestle on a load of local shows and he is really good. I also think he might have been at the NSW session I went to a while ago (the one that damn near paralyzed my out-of-shape ass!) I could just be getting him mixed up with someone else, but he has always looked so, so familiar to me. Anyway, Dan came along and gave a helping hand as the third trainer. I don’t know if this is going to be a permanent thing, but I’d love it if that were the case.

Dan being there enabled Ryan and Pete to split the beginners group in half – thus forming three classes of about 4/5 people. It’s pretty self explanatory why that is awesome. Of course we got to work much faster and it was probably easier for the trainers to focus on just a few people and really give a lot of detailed insight. Myself and three other beginners were put into a middle group to practice some awesome suplexes and slams. I don’t think we had done any of this stuff for quite a while, maybe five weeks or so. With that in mind, of course none of us were hitting perfect power slams and verticals, but the practice is invaluable, and I had so much fun doing them. I had to mark out under my breath every time I attempted a scoop slam!

Before everyone even arrived, the session was better than usual. There is normally a group who have the space before us to do some insanity workout or something. It usually eats into our time a little bit, and then when they are done, we have to take all the mats out and get changed, etc. They weren’t there, so when myself and a couple of other trainees arrived early, we got all of the mats and everything out ready so we were already way ahead of time. That meant that when the trainers and everybody else arrived, we didn’t have to wait around for the other group to finish and stuff, we could just crack on.

That is when we did the most grueling warm-up yet. We headed out onto the athletics track and did a lap. I knew there was more to come. Pete Dunne then set us the real challenge. Up and down the steps 10 times, then a lap, then up and down again 5 times, then a final lap. I did myself proud again and managed to complete it all in good time. All of those runs in the park are really starting to pay off.

I know how important cardio is in wrestling and I never want to be blown up after five seconds in a match, so this work is vital. Long may it continue! Plus the fresh air is really good. I’m going for another run after I finish this post – onwards and upwards! I know it’s not exactly the London Marathon, but if you’d asked me to even do the single 400m lap four months ago, I would have struggled. It’s managing to not die during these warm-ups that makes the endless, monotonous running in the park seem more worthwhile.

Anyway, after we got ahead of time and did the mammoth warm-up, it was time to get down to work. The two groups initially combined to go through some basic rolls. After that, we were split into advanced, beginner and… a tiny bit better than beginner, I guess. As I mentioned previously, our group focused on picking each other up and slamming each other down onto the crash mat. I found the being slammed part a lot easier than the doing. I really need to work on my upper body strength. I have been weight training for a few months but the progress has been fairly measly. I could do with some tips. Any jacked up guys reading this, holla at cha boy!

After we had our fun, we were all sent off to prepare promos. Myself and Johnny once again teamed up to try our hand at a tag. I guess we did okay. He is already confident, and my confidence is slightly improving. The substance was average though. We really need to step it up. I’m going to call him tomorrow so we can talk through some ideas. Ryan came up with some pretty funny stuff we could use with our gimmick, so I’m quite excited about working something out. Also, we need to bring a prop for next week’s promo session, so that is something to think about.

Some of the other promos were real good, but as always James absolutely killed it. He has the whole class in stitches every week. My lame attempts pale in comparison. Oh well, learning every week I guess! I don’t wanna flake on my solo promos because I know that’s going to be important, especially for my confidence to do it alone. But now we have a little vision for this tag team, I’m kind of interested to see what we can do with it. Check back next week and I will tell all.

That just about wraps up this week’s post. As always, if you’re in Birmingham or the surrounding areas, do check out the Kamikaze Pro Dojo. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking to try your hand at pro wrestling, this really is the place to be. Everyone is super nice. The trainers are real good. The whole atmosphere is welcoming. Of course, it’s not babysitting. You do need to show that you want to be there, put in maximum effort and show some respect. But it’s not like some of the horror stories you have probably heard about being “broken” army style. If you give everything you’ve got, these guys will help you. If you watch wrestling, I doubt very much that you haven’t dreamed about trying it. So why not check it out here and come down sometime!

Thanks for reading

Craig [Editor]

Kamikaze Pro: Dojo Blog #9

kpro7Thanks for checking out another brief instalment of the Dojo Blog. I’m journalising (if that’s a word) my journey from wannabe Dave Meltzer to real life pro-wrestler. One day, when I’m known affectionately as “The new Brock Lesnar” you can come back to this page and remember the good old days.

Anyway, that’s enough funny business – back to reality. I’m having fun on my quest so far. Nine weeks are down. I’ve done a two hour training session once a week and a couple of in-ring seminars during that time. I’d like to think I’m getting some of the core basics down (the rolls and bumps). My front bumps could definitely use work, but I feel like I’m making good progress everywhere else.

This week – like last week –  we got out some platforms and took bumps off of them onto the crash mat. This is easily the most fun thing we’ve done there so far. I really don’t mind doing this every time, it’s awesome! As the platform gets high, the kick you get out of doing it increases. No bumps or bruises were sustained, and my confidence is growing. We didn’t really do anything else this week besides rolls and bumps. I guess some members of the beginners class (including myself) could still use some work on them.

However, our warm-up was a little different this week. Rather than doing the sprinting and the high knee drills that we have become accustomed to inside, we ventured out onto the running track next to the building. We train at Hadley Stadium so there is a full 400m track at our disposal. When Pete and Ryan led us out, I didn’t know what to expect. First we went around and did a lap. It wasn’t a competition, but I was still counting – I came in fourth. Then we had to run up and down the steps at the side of the track – that was a killer. The cool breeze was very rewarding though, much nicer than being cooped up inside.

Finally, to finish our outdoor adventure we did another full lap of the track and I came in first. I don’t know if anyone else was really trying (or being competitive about it I mean) but I was so proud! I like to think I’ve really come a long way in the last three months with my cardio. I’ve been working my ass off, and as a smoker, it’s not easy. The last couple of weeks I’ve decided to lean more towards the cardio than weight training – still doing both, but switching emphasis. I think that’s paid off because I doubt I would have even made it around the track three months ago.

Hopefully all the gym cardio, outside running in the park and drills at wrestling practice are paying off for me now. I still need to focus on building muscle, but I really want to make sure I’m not getting easily blown up after 20 seconds. That’s something I can build on. As I said before, I don’t know if the trainers or the advanced guys thought of it as a race (probably not) but I was still really happy to come through first!

So we did the awesome warm-up outside, came back in and did some stretches, then spent the class going over rolls and bumps. We finished off with the promo section as always. The guys asked us to come up with tag team promos this week (which suited me and Johnny, as we had been trying them for the last two weeks anyway). They weren’t too impressed with the showing. None of us really stepped up to the plate, and some flat out refused to do it. Me and Johnny did our best and gave it a good shot, but there is a lot of progress to be made there for sure.

I guess that’s it for this week. I think I’ve covered everything. Cardio is getting better, confidence is growing, hopefully technique is improving, promo fear is slightly going away. Things can only get better. Can’t wait for next Tuesday for more. If you’re in the West Midlands area and are looking to try out training for pro-wrestling, you should check out the Kamikaze Pro Dojo here. It’s a great school with quality trainers and a really cool atmosphere. Check check it!


Craig [Editor]

Kamikaze Pro: 1st Anniversary Show

robbieHere is my run-down of the Kamikaze Pro: 1st Anniversary Show from this last weekend at the Meadway Sports and Social Club. I was very happy to be able to attend another excellent independent wrestling show. The bill looked promising for obvious reasons, and none of the guys on the card failed to deliver. It was a quality show from top to bottom, with a 5 star main event – a terrific way to finish the year for this fledgling Midlands promotion.

Jim Hunter v Chris Brookes v Ethan Silver

I think Chris Ridgeway was supposed to be the third man in this three way dance, but Ethan Silver stepped up and helped provide a terrific match. I’d never seen this kid work, and  I don’t think he is local (he could be, I don’t know) but he was wicked entertaining. He flew and bumped all over the ring and kept me on the edge of my seat. His two opponents are no slouches either. I saw Brookes have the best match I’ve ever seen in person against Zack Sabre Jr in Wolverhampton on Friday. Jim Hunter never disappoints, be it in singles competition or alongside his brother.

silverThese three guys combined to produce some fantastic sequences of chain wrestling and high flying impact. What else could you expect from this match? It was awesome spot after awesome spot, until the leggy Chris Brookes picked up the win and made all the Tiptonites in the audience happy.

Mad Man Manson v Marshall X

This was a revelation. I’d never heard of Manson before a week ago, but it only took him five minutes to captivate me. I had been invited to a seminar he was putting on before the show, but I knew I wouldn’t be up before midday (England game hangover) – boy did I miss out! I’d like to learn a thing or two from this man. He was hilarious! The man bounded around with wrestling boots drew onto his legs with pen, he interacted with the audience like nobody I’d ever seen, and he worked circles around Marshall.

The Black Messiah did not take kindly to madmanall the fun and games. He kept getting so worked up! At one point he took it too far by putting his hands on a young fan who was revelling in his demise. The heroic Mad Man did not let him get away with it. He picked up the kid and used him as a battering ram against Marshall. That sounds a lot worse for the kid than it was. He freakin’ loved it, as did I! Unfortunately, the bad guy cheated to win by using the tights on a cover. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last time that a cheater has prospered.

Uhaa Nation v Bubblegum

A terrific first half was polished off by none other than Dragon Gate USA sensation Uhaa Nation. I recently participated in an in-ring seminar with the big Georgian and got the chance to marvel at his talents close up. I was extremely excited to see him in action again. His opponent Bubblegum proudly wears the beautiful blue of my own Manchester City, so I have to mark out for him. The heat he gets for reppin’ the Champions is so funny to watch.

uhaaIn true Bubblegum fashion, the Brit used underhanded, dirty (often literally) tactics to get the advantage over his adversary for most of the contest. He ducked and dived, he used tricks and he survived. However, it always seemed that it couldn’t last forever. Big Uhaa made a furious comeback and put down his lowly opponent with that insane standing moonsault/shooting star press combination. The victor posed for pictures in the ring, and so he should. He looked and wrestled like a true star! Hello WWE!?dunnes

Pete Dunne v Damien Dunne

This brother versus brother match kicked off with some brawling outside the ring. It was intense and vicious in the early going, with some serious built-up animosity pouring out of these two great wrestlers. It did go on to become more of a mat contest, which seemed to favour the bigger brother Pete. Despite the tenacious struggling of Damien, it was “Dynamite” who got the win fair and square, to end a very solid match with no wasted time or wasted motion.

The Bhangra Knights v Moustache & Lariats v The Magnums

bhangrasIt seems that every indy show I go to now has a triple threat tag team match on the card. Does that sound like the start of a complaint? It isn’t. I’d like to see a show with six of these matches. I knew that – given the six guys involved – this was going to be priceless entertainment. The match had a bit of everything to please everyone: speed, power, comedy. Everyone performed great and I don’t think there can be any complaints. Like the rest of the card, the tag teams gave the fans everything they had. Moustache and Lariats secured the victory and are now Number One Contenders for the Tag Team Championship. I can’t wait to see them take on The Hunters!

Ryan Smile(c) v Robbie X(c)
– Unification Ladder Match –

When Relentless Division Champion Robbie X and Kamikaze Pro Champion Ryan Smile stepped past a waiting ladder and into the ring, the crowd knew they were set to see something special. The expectations for this main event were high. The atmosphere wasrobbie2 at fever pitch. BBC Three reporters were interviewing people. There were cameramen everywhere (both professional and amateur – that’s me) filming every bit of action they could get, and there was a lot.

I’ve never seen a ladder match in person and I don’t know when I’ll see another one better than this. Ryan Smile didn’t want his mammoth title reign to end, and Robbie X is an equally proud Champion and valiant competitor. Something or somebody had to give. It turned out that both of these guys gave an abundance, in terms of risk and pain. The fans could not complain about any half-arsed efforts here.

These guys were flying onto eachrobbie3 other off the ladder, they were being slammed onto the ladder, they were diving to the outside. Fans were consistently told to make room so these guys could use chairs, tables and whatever else was around to hurt each other. At the end of a truly gruelling mixture of brawling and athletic endeavour, Ryan Smile just about had enough to clamber to the top of the ladder and collect both Championships, which were hanging above the ring throughout.smileting

The now unified Kamikaze Pro Champion sat at the top of the mountain (so to speak) and savoured his moment. Not many in the crowd were impressed with seeing their hero be left broken and strapless. That changed when Ryan (who was visibly emotional, and rightly so) cut a heartfelt promo to end the night. He spoke about giving everything, trying his best and being there from the beginning. I’m not even going to attempt to say how many days he has held the gold, but I think it’s over a year now! What will be next for Ryan Smile in Kamikaze Pro? I guess we will find out at Born and Raised on July 27.

smileshakeThe two guys shook hands and hugged at the end of a really tremendous match. The entire room applauded both individuals, and I felt that was the perfect way to end the night. The announcer thanked everyone who helped make the promotion a success over the last year, all of us fans for coming, and encouraged everyone to look forward to a bright future.

It’s been a fantastic year for Kamikaze Pro, which was topped off by an outstanding 1st Anniversary Show. I will continue to attend their shows and I hope they can grow in strength and stature in the coming months. If you’re in the West Midlands and still missing out on some of the best independent wrestling in the country, click this link and start knowing!

Thanks for reading,

Craig (Editor)

Kamikaze Pro: Dojo Blog #8

kpro7So week eight has been and gone, and I can’t wait for the next training session. You know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Once a week just isn’t enough. Maybe in the future I’ll be able to do twice a week, when I’m good enough to almost hang with the other guys. For now, I just need to learn everything I can each week and keep coming back.

As for this week, it was pretty cool. The guys from BBC Three were there filming again. In case I haven’t already mentioned, they are coming around a lot of dojo sessions, shows, etc following Pete and Ryan, for a show called “People Like Us” – at least I think that’s what it is for. Exciting times nonetheless! They were there to focus on those guys, and we will probably just be background, but it was still a little bit nerve-racking. I’ll get to that later.

After a nice workout and some light cardio, we proceeded to crack on with rolling drills. After that was out of the way, we spent the majority of the session giving and taking ground attacks. It was the first time us beginners had got to do this stuff, and we mostly served as practice fodder for the advanced guys. Hell, you gotta pay those dues! I enjoyed it all anyway, but I have to admit, I loved trying to jump in the air and splash over people more than I did taking leg and elbow drops. I also tweaked my right arm a little bit when someone landed on me for one of those moves. No big deal. Pain and gain, and all that.

The most fun period of the session came when the guys dragged out these athletic benches (not sure what they are called, but gymnasts use them) and made a makeshift second rope out of them. I can’t imagine how high the top rope must feel because this itself was pretty nervy. We were told to splash and back bump off them onto the crash mat, in an attempt to build confidence and take us out of our comfort zone. It totally worked! By the end, everyone had fallen helplessly backwards off of that ledge with the confidence that they would not be broken upon landing. Nobody was hurt. Everybody was more confident I’m sure. I know I was!

To finish off, we did promos as usual. Me and Johnny slightly improved our attempt at a dual promo. The guys said we made some progress, so that’s good. Still a long way to go though! The cameras were on us all for this segment, which made it a bit nerve-racking but we all made it through. Matt Lightning came with the rhyming skills and the end of the session spiralled into an unstoppable rap battle between him and James (Marshall X) – that certainly entertained us all!

That’s it for this week. Check back next week. Roll on next Tuesday! In the meantime, I’ll be in Wolverhampton on Friday for Fight Club Pro at the Planet Nightclub. Kevin Steen will be in attendance, so I am beyond excited. On Sunday, I’m going to the Kamikaze Pro 1st Anniversary Show. That means I get to see Uhaa Nation for the second time in nine days, and Ryan Smile is taking on Robbie X in a unification ladder match. It’s going to be one hell of a weekend. Not gonna lie though. I’m most excited about England v Italy on Saturday night. That is going to be immense.

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]

World Cup 2014: Top 10 Ones to Watch

brazilwinThis is my personal selection of the ten players you should most keep an eye on at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. The action gets under-way tomorrow. How many of these guys will show their true potential on the big stage?

Alexis Sanchez (Chile and Barcelona)

Chile are an outside bet to surprise a few people, as they often do at World Cups. Being in their own conditions will certainly help. England found out at Wembley just how good they can be, as they played the Three Lions off the park. Sanchez is  absolutely key to their chances. He is a player who can play all across the front line from right to left. He has pace, tricks and 22 goals in 67 appearances for his country. That tells you how valuable he is. We are all fortunate to have this very exiting player to watch.

Lionel Messi (Argentina and Barcelona)

The diminutive attacker has struggled for many years to perform at international level, away from the comfort blanket of Xavi Hernandez and Andreas Iniesta. Argentina don’t provide him with quite the same support that he is afforded at Barca. While his two team-mates have won everything you can win with Spain without him, and been key parts of that success, Messi has underperformed massively in international tournaments. However, he did produce during qualifying and led Argentina to a first place finish. He is obviously an outstanding player, but he will need to do it for his country on the big stage. Until he does that, he will always be in the shadow of Diego Maradona.

Mario Gotze (Germany and Bayern Munich)

Germany – as they are at most World Cups – will be favoured to make the latter stages of the tournament. If that is to happen, the 22 year old number 10 will be a big part of it with Germany’s lack of elite centre forwards. They only have Miroslav Klose. He obviously has incredible pedigree – with 69 international goals and great previous tournament performances – but he is 36 years old. That may lead to Gotze playing as a false 9 as the Spanish called it. That is due to the rich array of attacking midfield options at the disposal of coach Joachim Leow, such as: Ozil, Kroos, Schurrle, Muller and Draxler. His bobbing and weaving, dribbling ability and low centre of gravity make him immensely dangerous and a potential star of the show.

ronaldoportugalCristiano Ronaldo (Portugal and Real Madrid)

Portugal stuttered into this year’s tournament, needing a two legged play-off against Sweden to get to Brazil. Nonetheless, never fear. Ronaldo scored four goals over the two games, including a stunning hat trick in Sweden during the second leg. If he can carry his country to the late stages of the tournament, he is a possible Player of the Tournament contender. Ronaldo is an astonishing athletic specimen with incredible aerial ability, a powerful strike from either foot and searing pace. He has had some injury concerns heading in, but if fit, he should shine as the best player in the world by far.

Eden Hazard (Belgium and Chelsea)

Belgium are a team well worthy of their position as an outside bet from the European nations. If they adapt to the conditions sufficiently enough, they have an outstanding pool of talent in every position from back to front. However, they will need their talisman, their wing wizard at his best. If they are to push the very best teams and make some waves in Brazil, Hazard will need to be on top form.

Andrea Pirlo (Italy and Juventus)

The great Italian is to retire international football after the 2014 tournament, so sit back and watch a true great for the last time in the old Italian blue. Despite being 35 years old, he still runs the show for both Italy and Juventus. The Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli builds the whole team around him. He plays in front of the back line and starts attacks from his deep lying position like a quarter-back in the NFL. His passing range is incredible, incisive and deadly accurate. England will need to stop him if they are to have any success against the Italians.

James Rodriguez (Colombia and AS Monaco)

Colombia are a very interesting team, particularly in this tournament as it’s in South America. During qualifying, they finished second behind Argentina. Already at the young age of 22, Rodriguez is a star player. He thrives in coach Jose Peckerman’s fluent style of play, has great dribbling ability, immense technical ability and is comfortable wide and drifting inside. Rodriguez also isn’t afraid to put in a shift for his team.

suarezLuis Suarez (Uruguay and Liverpool)

He has injury concerns over his knee going in but it would be stupid to discount Suarez. Uruguay are one of my favourites to win the World Cup. They possess lots of quality but they will need their talisman, who scored 11 in 16 during qualifying, if they are to achieve their potential. Suarez has a unique ability to beat a man in a tight area and also works expectationally hard for the cause. He can make something out of absolutely nothing and is a clear contender for Player of the Tournament.

Neymar (Brazil and Barcelona)

Brazil must be able to shoulder the expectations of millions this summer as they go in search of a sixth triumph. They won the 2013 Confederations Cup in convincing fashion, with Neymar named Player of the Tournament. The youngster operates in a free role from the left hand side, in coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s system. He displays an abundance of pace, quick feet and a keen eye for goal. Unlike most players of his generation, he has good passing ability too. He is certainly one to watch and should entertain us all at the very least.

Arjen Robben (Netherlands and Bayern Munich)

The Dutch flew through qualifying with 9 wins and a draw from 10 games. Coach Louis Van Gaal has changed the style of play from incumbent Bert Van Marwijk’s unattractive defensive football to a fluent, quick,  possession dominated style. His philosophy sees a lot of young talents such as Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind, Jordy Clasie and others being allowed to express their ability. However, Robben – along with Robin Van Persie – will need to produce if the Dutch are to go deep in the competition. The wide-man has searing pace and direct running, and that will be key. His decision making has improved as he has age. He is now a deadly finisher and has a much improved work ethic.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the 2014 World Cup!


Kamikaze Pro: Dojo Blog #7


Kamikaze Dojo trainers Pete Dunne and Ryan Smile

Just a quick update this week. I’m scaling down my writing across the board, in order to focus all of my time and energy on finding paid work. I don’t want to become a rent boy, but that is looking increasingly likely. Nonetheless, here is what went down this Tuesday!

Ryan and Pete were on hand to help provide a great training session for us all once again. The warm-up was pretty standard, but we didn’t do any stretching before hand. I’m a bit of a stretching enthusiast so I wasn’t big on that, but I didn’t pull any muscles or anything, so it’s no big deal.

After that we did a lot of drills, much more than usual. We practised rolls, bumps, lock-ups, headlocks, and other bits and pieces. But unlike before, we did them all as part of a drill. One drill, then a break, then another drill – I found this really beneficial. It felt like a real good workout, so that’s like a free gym day that I wasn’t going to get. It was awesome working on the technique but also busting a fat ass sweat. When you’re circling around the mats and doing high knees for ages, it really takes it out of you!

Another cool thing was that we did the promo stuff in the middle of the two hour class. Me and Johnny worked on a two person thing beforehand and tried it out. It wasn’t executed perfectly and left me with a few regrets to be honest. However, it was good to try something different and the trainers are thinking of perhaps doing tag team promos next week, so maybe we will get another shot. Either way, I’m trying to keep on top of my own stuff and making notes, so that if needed I can perform a solo promo. Some of the other guys did a really, really good. Everybody is coming along great.

After going a bit cold for that 25 minutes or so, it was gruelling to get back into the drills for the rest of the class. But as I said before, I was grateful for the chance to work myself. I managed to keep up throughout the session and – without tooting my own horn – I feel like my cardio work is starting to pay off. I’m nowhere near the level I want to be, but I am improving. It’s an absolute fact that three months ago I would have been slacking on the high knees, stopping and getting drinks throughout the drill, and/or throwing up outside afterwards. It feels good to know that my body is becoming a better engine.

At the end of the session, we got to watch the advanced guys perform some practice matches. This was very good to watch and analyse, and actually pretty fun. I’m looking forward to one day being able to do that stuff.

We got out on time for probably the first time since we started, so the geezers who come to lock up the gym seemed happy. I managed to get the bus outside for the first time in ages, and got home at a respectable time after the long journey from Hadley Stadium. On the whole, it was a success.

I can’t wait for next week, but before then, I’ll be doing a seminar on Friday at MAC Birmingham. Independent sensation Uhaa Nation is coming over and it will be simply amazing to get to be in the ring with him and learn some stuff. Beyond excited!

Roll on Friday, and roll on next week.

Craig [Editor]

EPL: Top 10 Man United Players of the Premier League Era

utdtrebleHere is my list of the ten best Manchester United players of the Premier League era. This is just my personal opinion, and they feature in no particular order. Did I miss someone? Leave a comment and let me know. I hope you enjoy reading.

Denis Irwin (1990-2002)

Hard working, loyal, understated, and above all very gifted. His trophy haul at United is phenomenal. The man won seven Premier League titles in a nine year period between 1992-2001, while rarely being out of Sir Alex’s side. Irwin was an outstanding defender and that’s why Fergie used to call him 8 out of 10, due to his consistent performances, hardly making a mistake over a decade plus. The Irishman was also an excellent free-kick and penalty specialist, and would regularly weigh in with valuable goals. In my opinion, he was one of Fergie’s very best buys, without any doubt.

David Beckham (1992-2003)

Becks was quite possibly United’s most famous player, but underneath all that stood a player of genuine quality. He won six Premier League titles between 1995-2003, his delivery from the right hand side put terror into the hearts of defenders and goalkeepers for over a decade. He was regularly contributing double figures in goals, his undeniable quality with free-kicks and corners also made him immensely valuable.

On top of that, he was a terrific passer who had excellent range, while always working incredibly hard. He formed a great partnership with Gary Neville down the right hand side for club and country. Unfortunately, David left the club under a cloud of controversy after Fergie got tired of his off-field antics. This famously culminated in a row involving a flying boot, which didn’t help matters much. However, that shouldn’t detract the quality and the achievements of an outstanding player and a true professional, though it sadly often does.

Rio Ferdinand (2002-2014)

What a player! Rio won six Premier League titles between 2002-2013. At the time, he was the most expensive defender on the planet when he was purchased for £30 million. United got their money’s worth and more, out of a simply wonderful player. The reliable centre back formed one of the all-time great United defensive partnerships with Nemanja Vidic. The two were at their absolute peak between 2006-2009, when United won three straight league crowns.

Their goals conceded record over those three 38-game seasons reads as follows: 06/07 – 27, 07/08 – 22, 08/09 – 24. That is a demonstration of incredible consistency. Rio is a Rolls Royce of a defender. He’s exceptional on the ball and good enough to bring it out from the back and start attacks. Unlike David Luiz – who PSG just paid a small fortune for – he could also handle the defensive side of his game with class. What where they thinking?

Rio was an outstanding defender, a superb reader of the game and did not even look like he was running most of the time. He just floated over the ground. A truly world class player who proved to be worth every penny and more.

nevillemirrorGary Neville (1992-2011)

The best English right back of his generation. The now popular Sky Sports pundit won eight Premier League titles between 1995-2009, and captained the club after Roy Keane’s departure in 2005 until he retired. He was the undisputed first choice right back for club and country for more than ten years. That tells you everything you need to know about his consistent performance. As I mentioned earlier, he formed an outstanding partnership with David Beckham on the right for United and England.

Gary was a great reader of the game and a very intelligent player. Perhaps his most impressive quality was his loyalty. In a world where players change clubs like they change socks, he was United through and through – a true leader in the dressing room and a fans favourite. His dislike for Liverpool was never hidden during his career, as his celebration after Rio’s late winner against the hated rivals at Old Trafford will attest. He was a player that opposing fans loved to hate, but you would want him down in the trenches with you when the going got tough. United still haven’t adequately replaced him since his retirement.

Peter Schmeichel (1991-1999)

This man was arguably the greatest Goalkeeper to ever play in England. The Dane won five Premier League titles between 1992-1999. The big man was an intimidating presence in one-on-one situations and a dominating presence from crosses. He always had control of his area. He was a leader, a talker, an organiser of defenders. He had great distribution with his hands or feet. This truly world class player was voted as the best keeper on the planet on multiple occasions, and was worth his weight in gold. The only comparable keeper in today’s game would be Bayern Munich and Germany’s stopper Manuel Neuer, who is very similar.

The great Dane proved very difficult to replace after his departure in 1999, as it took a full six years and countless keepers including Mark Bosnich, Massimo Taibi, Fabien Barthez, Tim Howard and Roy Carroll before a sound replacement was found in Edwin Van Der Sar. That tells the story of how great he was.

Roy Keane (1993-2005)

I’ll tell you how good Keano was! It’s 2014 and United are still yet to replace him. He left the club in 2005, having won seven Premier League titles between 1993-2003. Roy was the perfect box-to-box midfield player, famed for his aggressive and highly competitive nature. He captained United from 1997 until he left the club in 2005, and it was in this role which he shone brightest. I have never seen a player have more influence and drive over a group as Roy did.

He was an extension of Sir Alex on the field, and led by example. The Irishman inspired everyone around him, chased every loose ball down, and if someone was out of position, Keane filled in for them! He drove the team on. His passing was simple but very effective, and he came up with crucial goals on multiple occasions. His incredible will to win was probably his most important trait. There were more talented players at the club at that time, but few who gave more and were more important. He was a pivotal cog in the United machine, and was also always fun for the media. The fiery midfielder was never short of a comment. In my opinion, he was United’s greatest ever captain.


Cristiano Ronaldo (2003-2009)

The Portuguese joined the club as a raw 18 year old from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 for £12.24 million and left as the most expensive player in the world at the time, when Real Madrid shelled out £80 million for him. Ronaldo won three Premier League titles between 2006-2009 and was the most integral part of those winning teams. His incredible season in 2007/08 – in which he scored 42 goals in 49 appearances – led to United winning the Premier League and Champions League double.

Ronaldo finished as top scorer in both completions with 31 goals in 34 appearances in the League and 8 goals in 11 appearances in the Champions League, and even won the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Player of the Year. He won both for the second consecutive year and won the Ballon d’or too! It’s impossible to dispute the fact that Cristiano is and was an incredible player. He has pace, power, two capable feet, he’s great in the air, and he can play in practically any attacking position.

He has since gone on to prove how great he is at Real Madrid. His name is still regularly sung by the United faithful and rightfully so.

Eric Cantona (1992-1997)

The flamboyant Frenchman won four Premier League titles between 1992-1997. He is a big reason for the way the club is today. In those times, he was an absolute key man in ending 26 years of hurt in the league. He won four League titles in five years, and the only year he didn’t win the title was when he was suspended for the second half of the 94/95 season for attacking a supporter who taunted him after he was sent off.

United went on to lose the Title to big spending Blackburn Rovers. People certainly remember the notorious attack on the Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park on January 25 1995, for which the Frenchman was given an eight-month worldwide football ban and also lost his international career with France. However, people should remember the charisma, the impact and the incredible talent he possessed. His unpredictable nature and sheer magnetism seemed capable of carrying the team whenever it was needed. Eric helped develop and inspire the famed class of 1992 to eventually succeed him in leading United into a glorious time.

King Eric was a massively important part of the clubs history.

scholesPaul Scholes (1994-2013)

Paul Scholes was ultimately brilliant, and the most talented midfielder England has ever produced, without any shadow of a doubt. He won eleven Premier League titles between 1995-2013 and was universally praised by such people as Xavi Hernandez, Josep Guardiola, Zinedine Zidane, Edgar Davids, Marcello Lippi and Thierry Henry – that’s not a bad list of admirers.

He had a wonderful first touch and a way of receiving possession. His incredible technical skills, vision, passing range and an ability to find space. Scholes could control the tempo of a game better than anyone and scored some of the best goals you will ever see among his 107 Premier League strikes. Perhaps his most likeable trait was his quite unassuming personality – he was a true professional. He never wanted the spotlight, despite being widely regarded as a true United great. The Ginger Magician really was one of a kind.

Ryan Giggs (1990-2014)

The flying Welshman won thirteen Premier League titles between 1992-2013. As a pacy wide man during the first half of his extraordinary career, some young fans might forget he was Gareth Bale long before he came onto the scene. He possessed searing pace and a great end product, evidenced by his 109 Premier League goals and also his Premier League record number of assists.

Later down the line, he adapted his game to lengthen his career and became a clever deep play-maker where his vision and passing ability shone and allowed him to play beyond his 40th birthday. That is an extraordinary achievement. Speaking of which, he holds the record for the most appearances in Premier League history, and is the only player to play in every season of the Premier League since it began. Ryan played in the old first division before the league began and scored in every Premier League campaign, apart from this last one.

He has just retired to become Louis Van Gaal’s assistant and a possible future United boss. Ryan Giggs displayed incredible longevity and with so much experience is a true icon.

Thanks for reading,