Irwin outside The Cliff in 1992
|Full name||Denis Joseph Irwin|
|Date of birth||31 October 1965|
|Place of birth||Cork, Ireland|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Playing position||Full back|
|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.
Born in Cork, Ireland, he 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. 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 grew up in Cork and was educated at 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 team-mate, 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 Football 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 three FA Cup winners medals (1994, 1996 and 1999), a League Cup winner's medal and Champions League and 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.
Notable goals came on Boxing Day 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 very last game; United finished runners-up but would have been champions had they been able to turn their 1–1 away draw with West Ham United into a victory, as champions Blackburn Rovers lost their final game of the season.
Irwin was awarded a testimonial game 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 game 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 game which United won 1–0.
Irwin played for the Republic of Ireland national under-19 football team that qualified for the 1983 UEFA European Under-18 Football Championship and the 1984 UEFA European Under-18 Football 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 Euro 92 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 USA at Lansdowne Road. His final international appearance came on 17 November 1999, at the age of 34, when the Republic lost to Turkey in the Euro 2000 qualifying playoff second leg in Bursa. He played for his country at the 1994 World Cup.
Since 2004, Irwin has been back at Old Trafford working as a presenter at 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.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|1||29 April 1992||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||United States||4–0||Win||Friendly|
|2||29 October 1997||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||Belgium||1–1||Draw||1998 World Cup qualification Play-offs|
|3||5 September 1998||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||Croatia||2–0||Win||UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying|
|4||10 February 1999||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||Paraguay||2–0||Win||Friendly|
- Premier League (7): 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01
- FA Cup (3): 1993–94, 1995–96, 1998–99
- League Cup (1): 1991–92
- Charity Shield (4): 1990, 1993, 1996, 1997
- UEFA Champions League (1): 1998–99
- Cup Winners' Cup (1): 1990–91
- European Super Cup (1): 1991
- Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999
- Overall Team of the Decade – Premier League 10 Seasons Awards (1992/3 – 2001/2)
- Denis Irwin at National-Football-Teams.com
- Irish Times, 9 July 2008
- The Sun (London) http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/top10s/2776541/Top-10-Boxing-Day-massacres.html?offset=4. Missing or empty
- "Wolves 3–0 Burnley". BBC. 17 August 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
- "Wolves 4–1 Grimsby". BBC. 26 October 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
- "Irwin confirms retirement plans". BBC Sport. 22 August 2003. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
- MUTV – – Presenters Profiles Manchester United Official Web Site
- 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.
- Includes other competitive competitions, including the FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, FIFA Club World Cup
- "SoccerScene.ie – International Profile of Denis Irwin". Retrieved 17 November 2008.