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Thursday, November 12, 1998 Published at 13:28 GMT

Schmeichel to leave Old Trafford

Schmeichel: "I need to train more than I ever have"

Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel is to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season.

The news was announced at a news conference at Old Trafford on Thursday afternoon.

Alex Ferguson: The best goal keeper ever in my mind
Schmeichel said: "I am enjoying the game as much as ever but it is getting harder to keep pace. I need to train more than I have ever had to in order to prepare myself properly. I need more time between games than I can get in England."

He has insisted that he wants to continue to play at the highest level, including international football with Denmark.

Schmeichel's position at United has been increasingly questioned this season because of his age, injuries, and crucial blunders.

The Dane's mistake in the last minute of United's Champions' League game against Bayern Munich in September cost them two points.

[ image: Flying Dane: Schmeichel's arrival at Old Trafford heralded the success of the nineties]
Flying Dane: Schmeichel's arrival at Old Trafford heralded the success of the nineties
Schmeichel, who will be 35 in six days, has also been affected by injury recently and has missed two games this season with back trouble.

The BBC local radio station in Manchester, BBC GMR says the keeper's likely destination at the end of the season is France.

Both Marseille and Monaco have been linked with the player.

Alistair Yeomans: Age making it harder to keep pace
Schmeichel is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and has been a hugely influential figure behind the United success story of the 1990s.

He has helped the club win four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the League Cup.

Last February against Derby he also became the first goalkeeper to keep 100 clean sheets in the Premiership.

The Dane has won more than 100 caps for his country and was an ever-present as Denmark made the World Cup quarter finals during the summer.

[ image: The Dane in Champions League action]
The Dane in Champions League action
Despite his advancing years Schmeichel had been tipped to remain at Old Trafford for another few seasons.

But he has increasingly made mistakes which has led to his future being questioned.

The first cracks in Schmeichel's invincibility appeared in an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Barnsley when he sliced a back-pass to gift the Yorkshiremen their goal in a 1-1 draw.

The Tykes subsequently won the replay to end United's cup hopes.

United boss Alex Ferguson has consistently backed Schmeichel, who has made more than 300 appearances for the club, and has refused to criticise him for any of his mistakes.

Aussie's return?

Schmeichel's departure will mean United will need a new goalkeeper for next season.

His understudy is Raimond van der Gouw, who himself is actually eight months older than the Dane at 35.

United's other keeper is 20-year-old Nicky Culkin, who has yet to play a League match for the senior side.

In recent months United have been consistently linked with their former keeper Mark Bosnich.

The Australian left Old Trafford in the early nineties because of work permit problems.

He has since made his name with Aston Villa but his contract runs out next summer when he will become a free agent in the summer under the Bosman ruling.

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