Veterans conjure up classic rivalry

At the Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel yesterday were (from left) former Manchester United defender Paul Parker, CEO of Masters Football Asia Steve Black, former United winger Andrei Kanchelskis, ex-Liverpool striker Ian Rush, CEO of Castlewood Group Chris
At the Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel yesterday were (from left) former Manchester United defender Paul Parker, CEO of Masters Football Asia Steve Black, former United winger Andrei Kanchelskis, ex-Liverpool striker Ian Rush, CEO of Castlewood Group Chris Comer and former Liverpool 'keeper Jerzy Dudek.PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA

Rush and Parker to lead former Reds, Man U stars in National Stadium clash on Saturday

Manchester United and Liverpool have brought their heated rivalry some 11,000km from north-west England to Singapore, where their former stars will lock horns in the Castlewood Group Battle of the Reds on Saturday.

The National Stadium will play host to the latest episode of one of the fiercest rivalries in English football in an 11-a-side showdown lasting 80 minutes.

While the players have long since hung up their boots, they are still spurred on by the desire to beat their sworn enemies.

WINNING IS EVERYTHING

The rivalry has gone on for many generations. There's a lot of pride at stake.

CHRIS COMER, Castlewood Group chief executive

As ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, 42, said: "This game is always the biggest - whether it is played in the League, FA Cup, European Cup or now Masters.

"Nothing has changed. It's not a good feeling to lose and we all want to win this badly."

While the players appeared relaxed and exchanged banter yesterday at a press conference at the Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, fans can expect a more fiery and passionate encounter on Saturday.

Former United defender Paul Parker, 51, said: "Ego gets involved once that game kicks off. You don't want to lose and you'll give everything to want to win.

"What you will see are some very good players, you'll see their abilities, their professionalism, and the reason why they were what they were in those days."

The Liverpool squad will be led by Ian Rush, 54, the club's all-time record scorer with 346 goals, while Parker heads the United team.

Their line-ups also feature former Reds and Red Devils favourites such as strikers Robbie Fowler, 40, and Louis Saha, 37.

Rush revealed that playing United holds a significant place in his memory, for in 1992, he leapfrogged Roger Hunt to become Liverpool's all-time leading scorer in an EPL match staged at Old Trafford. He said of that feat: "It is big in my memory. To do that at Manchester United, it is special."

Castlewood Group chief executive Chris Comer said: "The rivalry has gone on for many generations. There's a lot of pride at stake.

"They are two major cities in England, only 30 minutes away from each other, and football is a way to settle differences on the pitch."

Former Red Devils winger Andrei Kanchelskis, 46, who scored five times against Liverpool from 1994 to 2001, is relishing the prospect of facing an old rival.

The Russian said: "It's like a derby for us. Playing against Liverpool is always especially hard and tough.

"They are a top team and scoring against them just feels better."

But any animosity between the two clubs will be put aside for now. Local fans can catch some of the players in a meet-and-greet session tomorrow at 7pm at Ion Orchard.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Veterans conjure up classic rivalry'. Print Edition | Subscribe