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‘You clearly didn’t watch him play': Gary Neville names greatest full-back in Premier League history

Jack Kenmare

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‘You clearly didn’t watch him play': Gary Neville names greatest full-back in Premier League history

Gary Neville thinks former Manchester United teammate Denis Irwin is the best full-back in Premier League history and well, it has caused an almighty debate on Twitter.

The 48-year-old Sky Sports pundit, who spent 19 trophy-laden years at United between 1992 and 2011, enjoyed playing in a back four with some of the greats, including former Republic of Ireland international Irwin.

After joining from Oldham Athletic in a deal worth £625,000, the reliable full-back made 368 appearances for the Reds during a 12-year period, where he lifted seven league titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League trophy.

Irwin was ever-present throughout the 90's under Sir Alex Ferguson, who famously named him as the first player in his dream Manchester United XI, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.

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Ask any United fan and they will wax lyrically over Irwin's consistency. In fact, former teammate Gary Neville said earlier this year that he is the greatest full-back the Premier League has ever seen.

Twitter user We’ll Never Die began the debate, saying: "Denis Irwin is criminally underrated, best full back since the Premier League began Gary or are we seeing this through red tinted glasses? I don’t think we are though."

Neville soon replied: "Agree! Denis is the best full back in PL history! Fact."

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One fan hit back at Neville's statement about Irwin, saying: "Neville on a wind up. Irwin wouldn't stand a chance under a Klopp or Pep...having to defend, attack, create and assist, sorry but none better than Robbo or Trent."

The former United defender responded: "You didn’t watch him play then? Denis would play full back in any team of theirs! Left or Right! He didn’t give goals away, didn’t give the ball away, brilliant going forward and could take set pieces to the equal of most!"

Here's how the rest of Twitter reacted to Neville saying his former teammate Denis Irwin is the greatest full-back in Premier League history.

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One said: "Irwin was class. The guy did things beyond his limitations," while another wrote: "Irwin, as a right footer actually seemed more comfortable at left back. He was a wonderful footballer, brilliant going forward and a terrific defender. No disrespect to Robertson, but imagine him playing right back?"

A third commented: "Because so many of the Twitter fan base is under the age of 30 the 90s and early 00s players are not deemed worthy enough of gracing todays game. Yes it was a different era but don’t disrespect those that were elite in those times and could play today."

A fourth added: "Irwin would start every day of the week in Klopp's Liverpool team at right back over Trent. Would offer the same attacking threat and set piece ability with the added bonus of actually being able to defend."

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy
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Irwin was asked why he was so loved by manager Sir Alex Ferguson in an interview with FourFourTwo.

"I went in and just got about my job," he said. "I wasn’t a star player, but Fergie still appreciated me. I didn’t cause him too much stress. My peers appreciated what I did, too.

"Maybe to the fan in the street I didn’t make headlines because I wasn’t a star player, but I didn’t want the limelight. I worked my socks off, trained hard and tried to learn from mistakes.

"Gary Neville was the same as me. Full-backs were pawns on a chessboard when I played. They’re more important now in the game.

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"We had Giggsy or Becks in front of our full-backs to cross the ball. Twenty years ago, if one full-back went forward, the other stayed back. Now, both go forward in the top teams."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Gary Neville, Manchester United, Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson

Jack Kenmare
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