Giuliano Maiorana was a Manchester United player between 1988 and 1994. He made eight appearances for the first team before a difficult relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson and a serious knee injury put paid to what should have been the start of a promising career.
For most of his time at the club, ‘Jules’ was a frustrated bystander as United began a period of dominance over English football. He did however play alongside several club legends in the reserves and during training, as well as in his appearances in the first team.
Here he picks a best eleven out of all the players he played with at United and sheds some light on what they were like as people and to work with on a daily basis.
Goalkeeper – Peter Schmeichel
He was a great goalkeeper who helped United win everything they won during the nineties and you can’t deny how good he was. In Denmark they play a lot of handball and his style of goalkeeping was very similar to a keeper in handball with the way he used to spread himself.
Right-back – Gary Neville
I’ll go with Neville because of the amount of games that he played for United and England. He was a nice bloke and I got on really well with him. He’s a Manchester lad and always worked hard and did a good job.
Centre-back – Paul McGrath
A great player and a humble bloke. He was hard as nails but a gentle giant off the pitch.
Centre-back – Steve Bruce
They always said about Steve Bruce that he was the best centre-half never to play for England, he was a great player who would go up for corners and score goals. He was a nice bloke as well, once I lost it on the pitch when a centre-half for Notts County reserves punched me a couple of times off the ball. So I kicked him and the referee came over and I was nearly sent-off but I got booked instead. After the game Steve Bruce came over and put his arm around me and told me to calm down. He was a top bloke and a top pro.
Left-back –Denis Irwin
I was a left-winger but I wasn’t like Lee Sharpe who was good at defending. To have somebody like Denis Irwin behind you who was a very good footballer was invaluable, nowadays you have these wing-backs who just run all day but they’re all athletes now and Denis Irwin was a top footballer. He was a nice guy as well, we didn’t socialise together because him and some of the more senior players were all older than me but I always got on well with him.
Right-wing – Andrei Kanchelskis
He was a robot, when he came for trials all the reserve team walked off the pitch after training and he stayed on and was doing about 100 Jackknife exercises. I played in the Masters with him about three or four years ago, we went in a nightclub afterwards and the doorman said: “I remember him there,” pointing to Andrei who was at the back of the group staring at the sky without a care in the world. He was so unassuming and so humble with no arrogance at all.
Centre midfield – Bryan Robson
To be honest all you’ve got to say is Bryan Robson’s name and it says it all. He was a top guy who always put an arm around you if you needed it and protected you on the pitch. He could’ve gone to other clubs and was a bit like United’s version of Steven Gerrard.
Centre midfield – Norman Whiteside
When I went to United I was just used to watching players like Whiteside and the rest on Match of the Day and on TV playing in World Cups. I remember watching him on TV scoring goals and being the youngest player to play in the World Cup, not to mention scoring that goal in the FA Cup final. If you think about Robson and Whiteside you would much rather that they were on your team than playing against you. Whiteside had it all as well, he had great feet, was a great footballer and was hard as nails. He knew how to tackle but was an all-round nice guy off the pitch.
Left-wing – Ryan Giggs
I got told about Giggs before he even made his reserve team debut that he was going to be something special, but I believed in my ability without being big-headed or arrogant. I believed in myself that much that it didn’t matter who was behind me and he didn’t scare me, even before I got injured.
He was a top lad though, I bumped into him not long after I retired and we talked for about 20 minutes. My last words to him were: “I know you know as well as I do that we’re both left-wingers, I was before you and now you’re the left-winger. I wish you all the best, you’re a really nice guy and I won’t take any more of your time up. I just wanted to wish you well and good luck in the future.”
That was the last time I saw him. It was nice of him to make the time to speak to me and showed that all the fame hadn’t got to him. My brother-in law lives in Salford and he’s known Giggs for ages, he went to Carrington and stopped him and asked if he remembered me. He said he did and signed a ball for him then went and got his training top, signed it and gave it to him which was a nice thing to do.
Striker – Eric Cantona
Cantona all day, the first time I trained with him we were playing about seven or eight a side with smaller goals. I tried an overhead kick from about 20 to 25 yards out which went just wide and Cantona applauded and told me I was unlucky. After we’d finished the session, Jim Ryan who was the reserve team manager at the time came up to me and told me that he didn’t like any of that ‘flashy s***, but for someone like Cantona to clap his approval goes a long way. Again, he was older than me so I didn’t have much social interaction with him but he came across as a sound guy when we did speak.
Striker – Mark Hughes
I remember my first day at training, we were in a circle playing one or two-touch and Mark Hughes was in the middle. Somebody passed me the ball and I went to pass it to somebody else and he came flying in so hard I had to jump up to get out the way. I wasn’t used to training at such a high intensity, he was 110% all the time and that’s just the way he was but off the pitch he was a friendly family man. He was very easy to talk to and a great player, there used to be about two or three opposition players trying to get the ball off him he was that strong.
One that just missed out – Paul Scholes
I picked Scholes out years ago when I was still at United as the best player of the ‘Class of 92’. He was superb and wouldn’t have been out of place in Spain or Italy. He had great feet, great vision and scored goals. He was similar in some ways to Glenn Hoddle when he played, everyone always goes on about Ryan Giggs but for me Scholes was the best of the lot.