Solskjaer with Champions League trophy in 1999
During his 11 years as a player for Manchester United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wrote his name into Old Trafford folklore with some crucial goals—none more so than the Champions League winner in 1999.
The Norwegian will return to Old Trafford with his new club Cardiff on Tuesday evening.
Solskjaer will be afforded a hero’s welcome by the club’s fans, and here are five examples of why he is held in the highest regard by the Red Devils.
5. Taking out Rob Lee
Towards the end of the 1997-1998 season, having led the table for six months, United were losing their grip on the title. There were four matches remaining when Newcastle came to Old Trafford.
United went a goal behind after 11 minutes before David Beckham levelled the score before half-time. 1-1 wasn't good enough and United needed a win if they were going to fight off Arsenal to win the league.
Solskjaer was brought on with ten minutes to go, like usual, to try and win the game. However, it wasn't his attempts in front of the Newcastle goal that helped us that day.
Where does Solskjaer rank among United's strikers?
With a couple of minutes left to play, United were determined to get that all important winning goal and threw all their men forward. Beckham played a ball into the box which was cleared faster than anticipated.
Rob Lee bombed after the ball and would eventually be one-on-one with goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw, certainly confirming defeat and a title-less season.
He had a 10-yard head start on Solskjaer but the Norwegian managed to catch Lee, swiping his leg out at the Newcastle player and tripping him. He knew he wouldn't get his foot to the ball in time to stop a goal being scored so tripped up the player instead.
As he walked towards the tunnel after being shown the inevitable red card, Beckham ran over to give him a pat on the back. Solskjaer shrugged, “I had to do it,” he said.
Sir Alex Ferguson had Solskjaer in his office on Monday morning and fined him for his efforts, but a bit of self-sacrifice like that always goes down well with the fans.
4. Success with the reserves
After retiring at the start of the 2007-2008 season, Solskjaer spent the rest of the season coaching the strikers in the first team, before taking on the job of reserve-team coach.
At the end of his first season in charge his side beat Liverpool Reserves to win the Lancashire Senior Cup and Bolton to win the Manchester Senior Cup, before winning the league the following season.
Solskjaer was then offered the manager's job at Molde on the basis of his success with United's reserves.
3. Injury time winner vs Liverpool
Whilst Solskjaer's goal against Bayern Munich rightly gains more attention, it wasn't the only important injury-time winner he scored in 1998-1999.
United were drawn against Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup and quickly found themselves a goal behind.
Solskjaer was subbed on with less than 10 minutes to play before Dwight Yorke equalised in the 88th minute.
With the clock ticking away, the ball fell to Solskjaer in the box and he struck past David James. He ran to the Stretford End grabbing the United badge, after putting his team into the next round, and keeping the Treble dream alive.
2. Return to goalscoring against Charlton in 2006
Solskjaer picked up an injury at the beginning of the 2003-2004 season which would see him miss most of the next three years of his career. The longer the recovery went on, the more people started to doubt whether he would ever return. He kept insisting he would be back one day but with Christmas 2005 approaching, and Solskjaer having not played since the FA Cup final in 2004, you had to fear the worst.
Just before the turn of the year, Solskjaer came on as a sub against Birmingham, his first appearance in 18 months, but he managed just five appearances in all competitions the rest of that season.
In the first away game of the following season, Solskjaer came off the bench with less than 10 minutes to play and scored in injury time in our win against Charlton Athletic. He bowed down in front of the travelling fans in appreciation of all their support.
Solskjaer went on to score 11 goals in 32 appearances that season in the league, FA Cup, Champions League and League Cup.
1. Champions League final winning goal in 1999
Solskjaer started the Champions League final in the 1998-1999 season on the bench, a position he was familiar with. Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were on fire that season, so there was no way either of them could have been left out of the starting line-up.
With less than 10 minutes remaining and United trailing 1-0, Solskjaer was sent on for Cole, with United fans desperately hoping that this evening would be yet another occasion for a crucial late goal from the Norwegian.
When the 90 minutes were up, United were still losing, only for Teddy Sheringham to level the score in injury time.
"I was just looking forward to extra time and getting to play an extra 30 minutes in the Champions League final," Solskjaer later reflected, reported Reuters.
He didn't get 30 minutes though because moments later he scored our second goal to win us the Champions League, ensuring the most dramatic ending imaginable to a European Cup final.
"To have been such a big part of their lives—many have told me it was the biggest moment of their lives, bigger than their wedding day. But they don't say that if their wives are with them."
The word "legend" gets used too regularly in football, but for United fans, the word sums up Solskjaer perfectly.