“I remember my first game, we played City away and we were losing 1-0 at half-time. We were walking off, and I was in midfield and Rio was behind me. And the half’s finished so you’re a bit tired or whatever, and Rio [Ferdinand] was jogging behind me and he said, ‘Owen, hurry up, the gaffer’s going to go mental.’ I said, ‘yeah but it’s half-time, I’m tired I’ll get in there when [I get there].’ He said, ‘Owen hurry up.’ Rio was anticipating that the gaffer could get upset, and we get in there and he said the complete opposite. He said ‘you guys have played great. I don’t know how we are losing. Keep playing the way you play, [and] you’ll win the game.’
“We didn’t win the game, but I never forgot that, because Rio’s quite a character isn’t he? Just the fact that he did that [jogged in] knowing what could [happen], it showed how much control Sir Alex had of the dressing room. I think that was so important because we just didn’t want to let the boss down. We all played with that intensity, and he demanded that. I think pretty much the reason he signed anyone was that he knew they would give him that.
“One of the things he said to me, I’ll never forget it, was, ‘Owen we signed you to help us win the Champions League. You can be a part of that.’ That was one of the big reasons I wanted to come. [I wanted] to be a part of this team, play at this stadium, with these fans. That group of players we had was just out of this world. You just wanted to be a piece of the puzzle.”
The Owen Hargreaves episode of UTD Podcast will be available on ManUtd.com and in the United App from Monday. You can find all previous episodes here.