One of the nicest men in football - or the nicest according to Gary Neville on twitter this week - is firm Manchester United fan favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
As soon as the Norwegian striker arrived at Old Trafford he was given the 'baby faced assassin' nickname as he scored on his debut after coming off the bench against Blackburn, and never looked back as he showcased his ruthless finishing season in, season out.
His spell as manager of Cardiff City has damaged his reputation somewhat after working wonders with Molde, but now he is back at the club that gave him his start in professional football and says he doesn't regret his stint as a Premier League manager.
Solskjaer sat down with 'FourFourTwo' magazine recently for a Q & A session, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. We've picked out a few highlights here, but if you'd like to read the whole thing you can do so at FourFourTwo.com
On whether or not he ever pissed off Roy Keane:
Many times! Me and Roy are good friends – we speak a lot. But we did have some fights, if you can call them that. I ended up telling him to eff off, because the only way he could respect you was if you stood up for yourself. There was one period of four or five weeks when I was in Roy’s team every single day in training and he shouted and shouted, because he demands 100 per cent from the ones he believes in. So I went up to Steve McClaren and said: “F**king hell, Steve, I’m in the same team every day.” He said: “Oh, you’ve noticed! It’s a mental development for you to stand up for yourself against Roy. You have done, so you’ve passed.”
On that tackle from behind on Rob Lee, and whether he would want his players to do the same:
Never. I would advise them not to do it, because I ended up with a fine and a hairdryer! I had to catch Rob Lee before he got into the penalty area. I made up some ground and thought: ‘I’m catching him!’ But I stiffened up in the last five metres and realised I wasn’t catching him…
I was applauded off but I wasn’t applauded by the gaffer. He laid down the law with me and said: “At Manchester United we never win that way; we win by fair play.” It was an eye-opener for me. Some managers would have said ‘well done, son’, but he would not accept that way of winning, which says everything about him.
On the 'baby faced assassin' nickname:
The nickname was no problem. It was nice to be given one. When I came to the Premier League, I knew I looked young, but I could still be a devil – if I had to hit a player’s ankle in a tackle, I hit his ankle. Were there any benefits when I was younger? None at all. I remember on one family holiday to Majorca you had to be either 15 years of age or above 140cm to go on this slide. I was over 15 but they still wouldn’t let me go on the slide! I was tiny at that age.
I was a very late developer – I only really started developing when I was 20 or 21. Then I moved from my local team, Clausenengen, to Molde and my career took off.
On what Ferguson said to him during the 1999 Champions League final:
Nothing special, but he did speak to Teddy at length at half-time and that pissed me off.
I thought: ‘I’ve scored 17 goals for you this season, mostly coming on as sub – aren’t you going to speak to me?’ Then Teddy went on. That’s the way to trigger me; to make me feel: ‘I’m going to prove you wrong’. I forget what the gaffer said to me afterwards, but I’ve got a picture of us together and I will always remember thinking at that moment: ‘You deserve this – you deserve so much to win the Champions League’. We did it for him, as a manager. You almost well up when you think about it. He was that kind of manager.
On the toughest defender he faced:
Jaap Stam in training was the worst by a mile. You couldn’t go past him at all. He was the best. Frank de Boer was a lot better than I thought he was going to be when I played against the Dutch – he was very good. There was Rio Ferdinand when he played for Leeds, too. I hated playing against strong, quick defenders. People like Marcel Desailly, [Paolo] Maldini, [Fabio] Cannavaro and Tony Adams never kicked you out of the game – they were the clever ones. I felt after a game against them that I’d done OK, but I never scored because they were so good at what they did. They never made mistakes.
On Cardiff City, and whether he regrets his decision:
I’d had approaches before, but I felt Cardiff was the right time for me. I don’t regret it – stand by your decisions. If they’d known what they know now, maybe they wouldn’t have done it; maybe I wouldn’t have done it. It was a valuable experience, but it didn’t turn out well. I feel bad when I look at the results. It’s hard when you get relegated. But I can look back and say I wasn’t ready. And I never dreaded going into work at Cardiff. Vincent [Tan] and I spoke a lot – that was never an issue. He wanted his team to be successful, and he’s right to do what he wants to do. I wish him all the very best.
A lovely bloke, you could listen to Solksjaer for hours.
After having great success with the Man Utd reserve team, and then unprecedented success with Molde where he helped his old team secure their first title in their 100-year history, some had tipped him as a future United boss.
His next move in management will be huge for him, but it's hard not to want him to do well, he's such a nice guy.