Manchester United FA Cup hero believes his career was career was misperceived

Manchester United legend Norman Whiteside believes his career as a football was misperceived.

The hero of Manchester United’s 1985 FA Cup final was only 16 when making his senior debut for the club.

There was a buzz around the Northern Irishman at Old Trafford after he impressed coming through the ranks.

Former manager Ron Atkinson decided to blood the striker in a Division One game at Brighton on 24 April 1982 and, the rest they say, is history.

Whiteside has done an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail on how his career was misperceived.

In the early days, Whiteside had to deal with comparisons to George Best, who was also Belfast stock – not that Whiteside was having any of it.

“It was a pleasure to be mentioned in the same breath, but apart from George and myself coming from Belfast, being spotted by (the scout) Bob Bishop, and playing for Man United and Northern Ireland, we’ve got absolutely nothing in common.

“I’ve always said I’d rather be the first Norman Whiteside than the second George Best. No one will ever touch George.

“But that was a good night. George was there and Rod Stewart happened to be with him. He was giving me big hugs because of Northern Ireland. ‘Well done son,’ and all that stuff.

“I got to know George. I wouldn’t say he was my best mate, but when I was down in London I’d call in wherever he was and just catch up.

“What a lovely guy. He was shy and very well-read. People don’t know that he was a bit of a writer. Bob Bishop used to carry poems around with him that George had written, and he’d show us kids. It was all done in calligraphy. George’s handwriting was amazing.”

From Best comparisons to winning the FA Cup for United, everything was going the way Whiteside would have wanted until injuries ruined his career at an early age having spent 11-years at Old Trafford.

When Sir Alex Ferguson succeeded Atkinson, the Scot thought Whiteside would have been a generational talent with just one more yard of pace despite being the sprint champion in Northern Ireland.

Whiteside also had the reputation for being a boozer and enjoying one or two many pints. He has never denied that he enjoys a drink and you can see him indulge at Q&A events throughout the football season, greeting fans and telling his intriguing stories from playing for the club’s greatest football club.

Ferguson decided to get rid of the several players who were part of the drinking culture at Old Trafford after he arrived. This meant it was only a matter of time before a few members of it got the chop.

Whiteside claims Liverpool’s successful side of the 80s drank more than United.

“On a Sunday, all the boys would go to Paddy Crerand’s pub and have a party,” Whiteside added. “We did let off steam, I’m the first to admit it.

“But I never drank on a Thursday before a game on a Saturday, and Robbo was the same.

“Liverpool drank more than anybody and won the league that many times. It was only because we were Manchester United and weren’t winning things that we got a bad press.”

It still irks Whiteside that there is a perception his relationship with Ferguson broke down before he moved to Everton for £600,000 in 1989.

The former Northern Ireland international continued: “Everyone thinks we don’t get on. Even to this day when I see him, we’re best mates. He was brilliant to me and more or less did my contract to Everton.

“He told me how much to ask for and gave me money to leave. He said, “I know you haven’t been on good wages since you were a kid”. I was only on £300 a week in the 1985 final. I went there and got five times the money I was on at United.”

I hope one of the current stars can become an FA Cup hero like Whiteside today against Man City.

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