Joseph Denis Irwin (born 31 October 1965) is an Irish former professional footballer who played as a left back from 1983 to 2004.
Irwin in 2017
|Full name||Joseph Denis Irwin|
|Date of birth||31 October 1965|
|Place of birth||Cork, Ireland|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|1986–1987||Republic of Ireland U21||3||(0)|
|1989||Republic of Ireland U23||1||(1)|
|1990||Republic of Ireland B||1||(0)|
|1990–1999||Republic of Ireland||56||(4)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Irwin is best known for his long and successful stint at Manchester United, where he established himself as one of the most important players in the United team that won a host of domestic and European trophies in his time there between 1990 and 2002. He has been regarded by Alex Ferguson as, pound for pound, his greatest ever signing. Earlier in his career he played for Leeds United and then Oldham Athletic, and finished his career with a two-year spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the club he supported as a child.
Irwin was capped by the Republic of Ireland national side 56 times, scoring four goals and featuring in the side that reached the second round (last 16) at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Irwin is the joint most successful Irish footballer in history, a record he shares with fellow Manchester United stalwart Roy Keane, having won 19 trophies in his career.
Irwin was born and raised in Cork, County Cork and was educated at Togher Boys' National School and Coláiste Chríost Rí. As a schoolboy, he excelled at both Gaelic football and hurling, and played at Croke Park more than once, on one occasion marking future teammate, Niall Quinn.
Irwin began his career with Leeds United in 1983, making 72 appearances in the Second Division, before moving on to Oldham Athletic on a free transfer in 1986. He helped Oldham reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the final of the League Cup in 1990 before he was transferred to Manchester United for a fee of £625,000.
In 12 years at Old Trafford, he made 296 Premier League appearances and won seven Premier League title medals, as well as two FA Cup winner's medals (1994 and 1996), a League Cup winner's medal and UEFA Champions League and European Cup Winners' Cup honours. He was comfortable in either of the full back positions and an expert at free kicks and penalties, and even in his mid thirties he was still United's first choice left-back in preference to the much younger Phil Neville.
He scored a total of 22 league goals for Manchester United, including several penalties. The first of these came on 7 September 1991 in a 3–0 home win over Norwich City in the First Division.
Notable goals came on 26 December 1991, when he scored twice in a 6–3 away league win over his old club Oldham Athletic, and his late winner against Southampton in May 1995 which kept the league title race open until the final match.
Irwin was awarded a testimonial match for Manchester United – played on 16 August 2000 against Manchester City at Old Trafford. Despite testimonials being friendly matches, due to the match being between local rivals it was a physical affair. Irwin went off injured in the 37th minute after a bad challenge by City striker George Weah.
Irwin made his last appearance for Manchester United at Old Trafford against Charlton Athletic on the final day of the 2001–02 Premier League season (12 May 2002), which ended in a 0–0 draw. For his final appearance as a Manchester United player, Alex Ferguson awarded him the captain's armband.
Irwin joined Wolverhampton Wanderers on a free transfer after the 2001–02 season, coincidentally joining the Black Country club at the same time as his former Manchester United teammate Paul Ince made the move to the West Midlands club, having previously been at Middlesbrough. Irwin scored twice in his first season at Wolves, against Burnley and Grimsby.
After Wolves won promotion to the Premier League in 2003, Irwin was applauded by the Manchester United supporters when he walked onto the pitch at Old Trafford for an early season league match which United won 1–0.
Irwin played for the Republic of Ireland national under-19 team that qualified for the 1983 UEFA European Under-18 Championship and the 1984 UEFA European Under-18 Championship. He was capped 56 times for the Republic of Ireland between 1990 and 1999, and scored four goals. His first appearance came on 12 September 1990 (just after his move to Manchester United), when he helped them beat Morocco 1–0 in a friendly at Dalymount Park. He made his competitive international debut on 17 October 1990, when the national side began their UEFA Euro 1992 qualifying campaign with a 5–0 win over Turkey at Lansdowne Road. He scored his first international goal on 29 April 1992 in a friendly against the United States at Lansdowne Road. His final international appearance came on 17 November 1999, at the age of 34, when Ireland lost to Turkey in the UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying play-off second leg in Bursa. He played for his country at the 1994 World Cup.
Since 2004, Irwin has worked as a presenter on MUTV. Irwin has been involved in coverage of several football tournaments on RTÉ. He is also a columnist with Ireland's Sunday World newspaper. He contributed to RTÉ Sport's coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2020 he named the best team Manchester United XI that he played with in his years at the club for ManUtd.com.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Leeds United||1983–84||Second Division||12||0||1||0||0||0||—||—||13||0|
|Oldham Athletic||1986–87||Second Division||41||1||2||0||3||0||—||3||0||49||1|
|Manchester United||1990–91||First Division||34||0||3||0||8||0||6||0||1||0||52||0|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||2002–03||First Division||43||2||4||0||2||0||—||3||0||52||2|
- Appearance(s) in Full Members' Cup
- One appearance in Full Members' Cup, two in Second Division play-offs
- Appearances in European Cup Winners' Cup
- Appearance in FA Charity Shield
- Appearance in European Super Cup
- Appearance(s) in UEFA Cup
- Appearances in UEFA Champions League
- One appearance in FA Charity Shield, one in Intercontinental Cup, two in FIFA Club World Championship
- Appearances in First Division play-offs
|Republic of Ireland||1990||2||0|
|1||29 April 1992||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||10||United States||2–0||4–1||Friendly|
|2||29 October 1997||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||47||Belgium||1–0||1–1||1998 World Cup qualification play-offs|
|3||5 September 1998||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||49||Croatia||1–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 2000 qualification|
|4||10 February 1999||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||51||Paraguay||1–0||2–0||Friendly|
- Premier League: 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01
- FA Cup: 1993–94, 1995–96; runner-up: 1994–95
- Football League Cup: 1991–92; runner-up: 1990–91, 1993–94
- FA Charity Shield: 1990 (shared), 1993, 1996, 1997
- UEFA Champions League: 1998–99
- European Cup Winners' Cup: 1990–91
- European Super Cup: 1991
- Intercontinental Cup: 1999
- "Denis Irwin". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
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- "Denis Irwin". Manchester United F.C. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Sir Alex Ferguson: his 10 best and worst signings for Manchester United". The Guardian.
- "Irwin: 2003 Play-off final winners are part of history". wolves.co.uk.
- "Most Decorated Fottballers : Ireland : Honours : Trophies". soccer-ireland.com.
- Traynor, Mikey (12 May 2015). "Just When We Thought Denis Irwin Couldn't Get Any More Amazing, We Discover A Fact Like This". Balls.ie. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
- Irish Times, 9 July 2008
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Manchester United need a new Denis Irwin for penalty duties". Manchester Evening News. 4 May 2015.
- Collins, Nick (May 2018). Fifty Cup Finals: My Life in Football. ISBN 9781785314193.
- "Wolves 3–0 Burnley". BBC Sport. 17 August 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
- "Wolves 4–1 Grimsby". BBC Sport. 26 October 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
- "Irwin confirms retirement plans". BBC Sport. 22 August 2003. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
- "Denis Irwin : Manchester United : Irish Footballer : Cork". soccer-ireland.com.
- "MUTV – – Presenters Profiles Manchester United Official Web Site". Archived from the original on 3 September 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
- Black, Fergus (2 June 2010). "RTÉ hopes Ossie and squad will spur fans to back home team". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
- O'Malley, Carl (2 June 2010). "RTÉ roll out big guns for their 56 live games". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
- "Denis Irwin reveals the best United team he played in on 30th anniversary of his debut". www.manutd.com. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
- "Player search". English National Football Archive. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
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- "Republic of Ireland v USA, 29 April 1992". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Republic of Ireland v Belgium, 29 October 1997". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Republic of Ireland v Croatia, 06 September 1998". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Republic of Ireland v Paraguay, 10 February 1999". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Nottingham Forest v Oldham Athletic, 29 April 1990". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Denis Irwin: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- Ridley, Ian (15 May 1994). "Football / FA Cup Final: Cantona's Double take: Rampant United realise the dream after Chelsea pay the penalty for missed chances". The Independent. London. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
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- "Liverpool v Manchester United, 18 August 1990". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Arsenal v Manchester United, 07 August 1993". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Manchester United v Newcastle United, 11 August 1996". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Charity remains at home". The Irish Times. Dublin. 4 August 1997. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "United crowned kings of Europe". BBC News. 26 May 1999. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "1990/91: United put England back on the map". UEFA. 1 June 1991. Archived from the original on 3 May 2010.
- "Man. United 1–0 Crvena zvezda: Line-ups". UEFA. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Man Utd crowned world champions". BBC News. 30 November 1999. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Wolves back in big time". BBC Sport. 26 May 2003. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
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- Lynch, Tony (1995). The Official P.F.A. Footballers Heroes. London: Random House. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-09-179135-3.
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (1999). The 1999–2000 Official PFA Footballers Factfile. Harpenden: Queen Anne Press. p. 352. ISBN 978-1-85291-607-7.
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- "Team of the Century: 1997–2007 – the Premiership's finest of the last decade". Give Me Football. 5 September 2007. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
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