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Premier League icon: Peter Schmeichel

With less than a month to go until the Premier League season begins, Total Football’s Simon Wright will be looking back at the players, teams and goals that have lit up the 20 years of what is widely regarded as the world's greatest league.

The next player featured in the Premier League icon series is a winner through and through and he certainly gave defenders an earful too. The great Danish goalkeeper and former Manchester United star, Peter Schmeichel.

Name: Peter Schmeichel

Clubs he played for in the Premier League: Manchester United (1992-1999), Aston Villa (2002), Manchester City (2003)

Honours: FA Premier League championship winner in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1999, FA Cup winner in 1994, 1996 and 1996, Champions League winner in 1999

PL Appearances: 310

Clean Sheets: 107

In 2000, Sir Alex Ferguson called the signing of Schmeichel (pictured) as the ‘bargain of the century.’

He signed him from Brondby in 1991 for £505,000 and his presence in United’s early domination of the Premier League was legendary.

He kept over 100 clean sheets, became the first Premier League goalkeeper to score in a match during his season with Aston Villa and won numerous honours in the 1990s, including the unique Manchester United treble in 1999.

He also won Save of the Decade at the 10 Seasons Awards for a remarkable stop to deny John Barnes in a match between Newcastle United and Manchester United in December 1997.

The world’s best

22 clean sheets were kept by the Dane in the inaugural Premier League season, which played a part in United’s first title success for 26 years.

Having been part of the surprising Danish success at Euro 92, Schmeichel had a taste for winning, which continued throughout the final decade of the 20th century.

He was voted the World’s Best Goalkeeper in 1993 and his form at the time meant there was frankly no competition to that prize.

A league and cup double followed in 1994 and he looked in top form again, although he was blamed by Ferguson for his side throwing away a 3-0 lead at Liverpool in January 1994.

They rowed furiously but after a swift apology, all was forgiven and his cult status at Old Trafford increased, when he scored a goal from a corner in a UEFA Cup tie with Rotor Volgograd in 1995, although elimination still followed.

Wright confrontation

Whenever defences were at fault for conceding goals, Peter Schmeichel would normally have something harsh to say to them.

He had a bitter set of confrontations against Arsenal hitman Ian Wright in the 1990s. Amazingly, Wright never scored past Schmeichel, despite his phenomenal strike rate in other matches for the Gunners.

In November 1996, a police enquiry was launched after Wright claimed a racist remark had been made by the goalkeeper.

Three months later, Arsenal trailed in the corresponding fixture 2-1, when Wright chased a ball, only to be flagged for offside.

Ignoring the whistle, the attacker jumped two-footed into a dangerous challenge with Schmeichel, which incensed Ferguson. There was a confrontation between the two after the final whistle, where Wright was so upset, he looked like he might punch Schmeichel.

No evidence was proven about Wright’s allegations and the case was eventually dropped.

Biggest high

Peter Schmeichel’s Manchester United career ended on the biggest high possible, when he won the Premier League title for a fifth time, along with the FA Cup and the Champions League in the same season.

He only kept seven clean sheets in his final season at the Theatre of Dreams but was as inspirational as ever in United’s season of pure dominance.

After a two year stint with Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, which brought another domestic title, Peter returned to the Premier League with Aston Villa in the summer of 2001.

He became the first goalkeeper in Premier League history to score a goal, when he struck for Villa in a 3-2 loss at Everton in October 2001.

However, he left after just one season in Birmingham due to contract issues. A final season was spent at Manchester City, where he remained unbeaten against his former club United, including being in goal for the emotional final derby at Maine Road, which City won 3-1.

Since retirement, he has done punditry work for the BBC and Danish television, appeared on Strictly Come Dancing and became host of the Discovery Channel programme, Dirty Jobs in 2008.

Peter Schmeichel’s presence on the Premier League scene in the early years will never be forgotten. He remains as one of the best goalies to have ever graced the most exciting league in the world.

NEXT TIME ON PREMIER LEAGUE ICONS: Former Golden Boot winner and nicknamed ‘Cole the Goal,’ Andy Cole.

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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