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By ESPN Staff
Aug 28, 2007

Manchester United hero Solskjaer retires

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought the curtain down on his glorious playing career with Manchester United - but his Old Trafford days are from over.

After 11 years and 366 appearances for the club he joined for a bargain £1.5million from Norwegian side Molde, Solskjaer has had to finally call it a day due to an ongoing knee injury.

Striker Solskjaer, who famously scored the winner in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich to help the club win the treble in 1999, has made several comebacks in the last four years.

The 34-year-old even scored 11 goals last season as United again won the Premier League crown, but he has never fully overcome his knee problem.

However, the man famously nicknamed 'the baby-faced assassin', will remain at United in a coaching capacity and will continue to represent the club as an official ambassador.

Although it is a sad day for Solskjaer, he appreciates he has had a fantastic career, scoring 126 goals overall.

'I would like to thank the manager (Sir Alex Ferguson), the coaching and medical staff, and most of all the supporters who have supported me through my career,' said Solskjaer.

'They have been fantastic and were a real inspiration to me when I was out injured.

'The support they and the staff showed me during that time was the main motivation for me making my comeback.

'I feel proud to have represented Manchester United for 11 years, and have some very special memories.'

His fondest, though, will always be scoring on his debut just six minutes after coming off the bench to secure a 2-2 home draw with Blackburn on August 25, 1996

'I've been asked many times what's the greatest moment of my United career,' said Solskjaer.

'Scoring that goal in my first game and turning round to see that Eric Cantona was the first one coming towards me to celebrate, that just made me realise, 'I'm at Old Trafford now'.'

With great irony, his last goal was also after coming on as a sub against Blackburn at Old Trafford in March, scoring in the 90th minute of a 4-1 win.

There is no doubt Solskjaer will be missed on the playing side, but Ferguson is now hoping he can translate his talent to his coaching role.

'Ending your playing career is a sad day for anyone, in the case of Ole, he has 11 fantastic years he can look back on,' remarked Ferguson.

'Ole has achieved everything a player could ever wish to achieve.

'He has been a great servant to the club and has always remained a model professional in his responsibility as a player, and in his demeanour, and his manners have always been exemplary.

'Ole will hopefully go on to be a good coach.'

Whilst reflecting with fondness on Solskjaer's past at United, chief executive David Gill is also looking towards a bright future for the Norwegian.

'Ole has provided us all with some exceptional memories during his time here at the club,' said Gill.

'Nobody will ever forget his dramatic winner in Barcelona, but much more than that his dedication and professionalism make him one of the great role models in football.

'Ole will be dearly missed as a player, but will go on to serve the club as an ambassador and a valuable coach.'

Blackburn boss and former Manchester United strike Mark Hughes also paid a glowing tribute to Solskjaer.

'Ole is guaranteed a place in United's history and football's history with his goal in the European Cup final,' said Hughes.

'But he brought so much more to Manchester United. He had a huge influence over many years.

'I met him on many occasions. He is a true professional, a very humble man, but a very successful one.

'Ole has many qualities and I'm sure that will help him going into another period in his life.'

Solskjaer's father Oyvind revealed the decision to quit had not been an easy one for his son.

'He wanted to keep playing,' said Solskjaer senior.

'This is sad for us, and for him, that he has to quit. He'd hoped to recover 100%, but now something has happened in his knee that makes it impossible for him to continue.

'But he believed himself that he still had a lot to offer on the football field, if he'd just recover.'