Football remains the biggest sport around in global terms and certainly the most followed game in the UK. Much of this comes down to the integral part it plays in daily life and the appetite that British people have for it as a sport. This is not just watching games on TV or attending them in person. Many fans in the UK love to catch up on the latest footballing stories which have hit the headlines or take in the most interesting off-field drama being reported online.
In addition, UK football fans also like to place bets on matches involving teams they follow or big one-off matches. Many supporters will also bring their love of football into other ways of staying entertained and look for the latest slots based on the sport at the UK’s best online casinos in 2023.
The Premier League is another major reason for the popularity of football in the UK and Manchester United are arguably the most famous side playing in it. In recent times, this has seen icons like Wayne Rooney, Roy Keane and Cristiano Ronaldo turn out for the team. If you go back in time before the Premier League was formed, you find other world stars of the game such as George Best and Bobby Charlton playing for the Red Devils.
While these legendary names have rightfully picked up many plaudits from fans of the club, there are some other important players who never seem to get a mention. But who are some of the best unsung heroes in United’s history?
South Korean superstar Park signed for the club in 2005 and gave seven years of loyal service until 2012. During his time in Manchester, this skilful midfielder won multiple Premier League titles, numerous FA Cup medals and a FIFA Club World Cup in 2008. In addition to this, he was also a key member of the United team who won the Champion’s League in the 2007/08 season.
All this was done over a span of 134 games, during which he never let the fans down and showed his willingness to work hard on the pitch. In addition, Park also had a tidy range of passing, the ability to score key goals and good positional sense.
Despite this though, he remains something of an unsung hero to this day at Old Trafford. Maybe this was down to the reluctance of Sir Alex Ferguson to play him regularly or the feeling that his signing was more of a Far East marketing ploy when he arrived.
Trinidad and Tobago international Yorke signed for United in 1998 for a transfer fee of just over £12m. During his time with the club, he scored an impressive 65 goals in 152 matches before leaving for Blackburn in 2002. Anyone who remembers Yorke turning out for the superb United team of the late 1990s will not only remember his infectious energy but his speed, creativity and lethal finishing as well.
In addition to winning multiple FA Cups and Premier League medals with the side, Yorke was also a key member of the iconic 1998/99 Champions League winning team. Indeed, many fans will remember the pivotal role he played in Manchester United’s 1998/99 treble winning team and the awesome partnership he struck up with Andy Cole.
While this would make him a central part of history at most other clubs, Yorke is not as well remembered as other United legends. This may well be down to his comparatively brief stint at Old Trafford and the way he was not always first choice on the team sheet.
Welsh full-back Clayton Blackmore was one Manchester United stalwart who certainly seems to fit the bill of being an unsung hero. When you think about what he did when at the club, it does seem he was not someone who was recognised enough when playing.
Blackmore turned out 245 times for the side and was a key man in the early reign of Sir Alex Ferguson. A versatile player who could also do the job in midfield, his combative nature and sweet left foot were things of beauty.
Blackmore was also a man for the big occasion and often came up with crucial interventions at key times. His fantastic goal line clearance from Barcelona’s Michael Laudrup in 1991’s UEFA Cup Winners Cup final is a case in point.
As with the other players we have listed, Blackmore is not a name you hear mentioned much when people talk about important people from United’s past. This is perhaps down to the position he played as defenders are often overlooked in favour of attackers and he did not court the media.
For a period during the 2000s and 2010s, Rio Ferdinand formed an incredible partnership with Nemanja Vidic at the heart of the Red Devils defence. During this time, it was hard for any other central defender to get a look in unless one of these players was injured or suspended. This meant that the outstanding Jonny Evans never really got the praise he should have as a United player.
This is a real shame when you look at what he did for the team and what a top footballer he is. Evans played just under 200 games for the side and never looked out of his depth when called in to make his mark. When he did get a chance to play, he showed robust physicality, good composure on the ball and a great understanding of the game.
Many fans may point to his transfer to West Brom in 2015 as something which dented his chances of becoming a true Old Trafford icon. It looked like he would be the future of United’s backline at one point before this and could have gone on to play many more games there on a regular basis. If he had done this and picked up more trophies as a United player, he may have been more fondly remembered.
Irish full-back Tony Dunne really did have it all, including tough tackling, excellent passing, decent speed and a real will to win. In any other side, he would have stood out and been lauded by supporters, but he happened to play for United in the era of Best, Charlton, Stepney and Kidd. It is perhaps due to being overshadowed by players such as this that he remains something of an unsung hero still.
As with the other former Old Trafford stars we have looked at, Dunne’s achievements at the club warrant a mention. This included league titles with the side and a 1963 cup medal too. It is his role in the 1968 European Cup winning team for which he is perhaps best known for though. His performance might have gone under the radar somewhat when United beat Benfica 4-1 to lift the trophy, but he showed all the attributes in that match which made him such an outstanding player.
Manchester United have lots of unsung heroes in their past
Of course, there are many other players who have probably not gotten the recognition they deserve from United fans. While this includes past players such as Ronny Johnsen and Dimitar Berbatov, you could just as easily apply it to some current names such as Scott McTominay!
The problem for these kinds of players though is the global megastars who they play or played with. If you are part of a United side with Charlton, Best, Rooney, Keane or Ronaldo, then fans will naturally focus on them as the bigger names. All teams need their unsung heroes though, and the players we have listed have been key to the success United has seen throughout history.