Despite being one of the biggest clubs in the world, footballers from the Emerald Isle have left their indelible mark on the Red Devils. Here are the top ten Irish players who have played for Manchester United.
As England’s second most successful side in history with a total of 67 trophies, Manchester United is undoubtedly one of the biggest, most followed, and most respected clubs in the world.
There brings with this reputation the expectation of a certain level of quality, ability, and leadership to play for the side. However, many Irish players have managed this feat, some incredibly well.
From the Busby Babes to the Alex Ferguson era, many Irish footballers have left their mark at Old Trafford. Here are the top ten Irish players who have played for Manchester United.
10. Sammy McIlroy – a Belfast man
Kicking off our list of the top Irish players who have played for Manchester United is Sammy McIlroy, who played 419 times for the club.
From Belfast, the Ulster man spent 11 years at United, between 1971 and 1982, collecting the Second Division title and FA Cup along the way.
9. Johnny Carey – Gentleman John
Known as ‘Gentleman John’, Carey was once a Manchester United captain and collected 344 appearances for the club.
A winner of an FA Cup and First Division title during his time in red, the Dublin man was a fine right-back who also played 29 times for Ireland.
8. Harry Gregg – a hero of the Munich Air Disaster
Harry Gregg collects a spot on our list of the top Irish players who have played for Manchester United. He was an iconic Busby Babe and a hero of the Munich Air Disaster.
A goalkeeper, Gregg made 247 appearances for United. He joined United in December 1957 for £23,500, a world-record fee for a goalkeeper at the time.
7. Norman Whiteside – a two-time FA Cup winner
Whiteside scored 68 goals for Manchester United and collected two FA Cup-winning medals during a successful spell at the club. He also made 274 appearances.
Whiteside was born in Belfast and also played for Everton, before retiring in 1991.
6. Kevin Moran – also a top GAA player
Next on our list of the top Irish players who have played for Manchester United is Kevin Moran, who spent ten seasons at Old Trafford.
Born in Dublin in 1956, Moran played 231 times for United and a stellar 71 times for Ireland. Moran was also a top GAA player: he played county football for Dublin, winning two All-Ireland titles.
5. John O’Shea – industrious Irish defender
John O’Shea was one of Ireland’s best defenders throughout the 2000s and is well-deserving of a spot on this list of the top Irish players who have played for Manchester United.
The Waterford native racked up 393 matches for the club, having graduated from the academy. O’Shea won five Premier League titles and the Champions League.
4. Tony Dunne – unsung hero of the Busby era
Dunne collected 33 caps for the Irish national team over a 14-year career. Part of the Busby era, he made 535 appearances for Manchester United.
Across his career at Old Trafford, Dunne won two First Division titles, the 1963 FA Cup, and the 1968 European Cup.
3. Denis Irwin – one of the top Irish players who have played for Manchester United
One of the top Irish players who have played for Manchester United is iconic full-back Denis Irwin.
Irwin flourished at Manchester United under the tutelage of Alex Ferguson. He played 529 times for the club, amassing 15 trophies.
2. George Best – one of the best players of all time
George Best is one of the best footballers of all time. The east Belfast man made 470 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 179 goals.
Best won the 1968 European Cup with United, alongside two First Division titles. He was a mesmerising player who will go down in history.
1. Roy Keane – the ultimate United skipper
Roy Keane finishes our list of the top Irish players who have played for Manchester United, and there will be little debate as to why.
Keane is heavily regarded as one of the, if not the, greatest captains in Premier League history. Leading United to nine major honours, he is their most decorated captain.
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