Paul Ince recently reflected on his career, which included time at both Liverpool and Manchester United
Paul Ince denies that he committed a ‘cardinal sin’ by moving to Liverpool after previously being a Manchester United player as he did not make the switch directly.
Over the course of history it is rare to see players turn out for both clubs given their intense rivalry. Since 1964 there has been no direct transfer from Old Trafford to Anfield and vice versa, only those who have indirectly made the switch to a former rival.
Ince was one such player. He turned out for United between 1989 and 1995, making 267 appearances and scoring 27 goals. During the period he won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, a League Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.
But during his six-year spell in Manchester, the Ilford-born midfielder tangled with manager Sir Alex Ferguson, resulting in his £7.5m sale to Inter Milan.
In 1997 he would eventually return to England, joining a team he once regarded as a fierce rival. However, Ince does not see his move to Anfield as a betrayal of his former team.
“I have always kind of felt – and I have said this time and time again – it is no disrespect to both teams but I’d have never have gone to Liverpool straight from Manchester United or from Liverpool straight to Manchester United. That is a cardinal sin,” he told talkSPORT.
He even explained that United waived the right to re-sign him before completing his move to Liverpool.
“When I left to go to Inter Milan, I didn’t want to leave Manchester United. When I came back from Inter Milan, Man United had first refusal on me. I could have easily gone back to Manchester United – they turned down that decision to take me back.
“Whether I would have gone back I don’t know, but all I know is I had two years at Inter, another three years left on my contract, obviously the family situation was difficult so we came back.
“Peter Robinson came over from Liverpool, we sat down and had some lunch, we agreed that was the way I was going to go. I love the North West. I’d spent six or seven years there with United, knew Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler, David James, so it was easy to settle in.”
Joining the Reds at 29-years-old, Ince went on to score 17 goals in 81 appearances. He reflected on one of those – against United in front of the Kop, equalising in a 2-2 draw back in 1999 before celebrating wildly.
It was to be one of his last contributions though as he departed to Middlesbrough following a disagreement with Gerard Houllier.