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Saturday, 11 May, 2002, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
Golden oldies bow out
Matt Le Tissier's career has ended
Saints fans will be unhappy to see the back of Le Tissier
test hello test
By Daniel Warren
BBC Sport Online

The end of the Premiership season has brought the curtain down on several of the game's stalwarts.

Matthew Le Tissier, Gary McAllister, Denis Irwin and Lee Dixon were among those saying their farewells to their respective clubs on the final day.

Irwin may return with a different club next season. But there is no doubt that it is the end of an era for the Premiership's first generation of stars.

Of the retiring players, the one who has provoked the most hero worship is Le Tissier.

Denis Irwin
Denis Irwin has been a bargain for Man Utd
The man known locally as "Le God" is, quite simply, revered on the south coast of Hampshire.

His 162 goals for the Saints since joining as an apprentice is impressive enough.

But never mind the quantity, feel the quality. Le Tissier has netted enough fantastic strikes to fill a goal of the season competition all by himself.

  Le Tissier - what a Saint

The service Irwin has provided for Manchester United is as impressive as it is unsung.

Never one to grab the headlines, Irwin's unfailing reliability in defence has made a mockery of his 625,000 transfer fee from Oldham in 1990.

Sir Alex Ferguson says Irwin could be his best-ever signing.

Gary McAllister celebrates his goal
McAllister scored in Liverpool's astonishing Uefa Cup win over Alaves
Old Trafford also said goodbye to Ronny Johnsen and Raimond van der Gouw.

Johnsen's six years at Old Trafford were blighted by injury, but he was invaluable during the treble-winning season of 1999.

As an understudy to Peter Schmeichel, Van der Gouw's first-team chances were always going to be limited - but he was admirably loyal and consistent in his career at Old Trafford.

Le Tissier and Irwin are both inexorably linked with one club, but several teams have benefitted from the skills of Gary McAllister.

His six-year stint at Leeds from 1990-96 saw his incisive midfield play unlock many defences, and yielded a championship-winners' medal in the year before the Premiership was launched.

Nigel Winterburn
West Ham are releasing Nigel Winterburn
Coventry and Liverpool subsequently reaped the rewards of his talents, and McAllister was instrumental in the Reds' Uefa Cup success in 2001.

While some may remember him for his penalty miss against England in Euro 96, that would do a disservice to one of the game's most intelligent midfielders.

  McAllister moves on
  McAllister's career in pictures

Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn were never glamourous Premiership stars. But their role in Arsenal's famous back four will not be forgotten by Gunners' fans.

Winterburn made 429 appearances for Arsenal and was the dictionary definition of a 'stalwart' for his team.

He was equally reliable for West Ham, and fans may still see him action next season, with Portsmouth reportedly in the running to snap him up.

  Dixon signs off in style

Dixon surpassed Winterburn's appearance record this season, and retires on a high, having helped the Gunners to a second Double in four years.

Exciting young players are emerging in the Premiership and it is time for the old guard to move aside gracefully.

But the new stars who take to the field next season will have to do exceptional things to match the achievements of their predecessors.

See also:

10 May 02 |  Man Utd
Fergie: Irwin is a gem
11 May 02 |  Man Utd
Johnsen's Old Trafford exit
11 Apr 02 |  West Ham Utd
Hammers release Winterburn
11 May 02 |  Arsenal
Dixon bows out
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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