Games That Changed My Life: Paul Ince tells FFT the defining fixtures that made him

Paul Ince
(Image credit: Getty)

Paul Ince, also known as the "Guv'nor", was a towering presence of 90s football. At Manchester United, Ince won two Premier League titles and the European Cup Winners' Cup, before going to on to represent clubs including Inter Milan and Liverpool. A pioneer for the England national team, Ince was first black man to captain his country, and played in two European Championships and the World Cup in 1998.

Here, he tells FourFourTwo about the matches that changed his life...

This article first appeared Issue 296 of FourFourTwo. Subscribe now and get 13 issues a year delivered straight to your door.

West Ham 3-1 Southampton (December 6, 1986 First Division)

“There were two key West Ham games for me. Two goals in a League Cup win against Liverpool earned me a move to Manchester United, but my full debut changed my life. I scored with a diving header at home to Southampton and was playing every week after that. My wages went up as well, which helped!”

Man United 2-1 Barcelona (May 15, 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup Final)

Barça were probably the best team in Europe, so beating them in Rotterdam gave us the belief that we could beat anyone. Our mindset changed. If we’d lost, I don’t think we’d have gone on to win the Premier League two years later. That game was crucial for us as a club.”

USA 2-0 England (June 9, 1993 Friendly)

“Graham Taylor first called me up in ’92 but I thought I should have been in the squad earlier. I told Alex Ferguson, ‘Tell him I’m not going, I’ve been playing well all year.’ An hour later, I got a message back: if I went, I would start. If Graham hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have gone, or captained England a year later. I was the first black England captain and got letters from fans in rough areas, saying I’d inspired their kids. That meant a lot.”

Italy 0-0 England (October 11, 1997 World Cup qualifier)

“People always mention that game to me. I thought I’d never get to a World Cup, so Rome was massive. Demetrio Albertini’s elbow cut my head open and the dressing room was at the other end of the ground. When we got there, the door was locked – I missed 10 minutes. Glenn Hoddle needed me so much that he waited, rather than subbing me off.”

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.