A MANCHESTER UNITED legend has recalled how he received an X-rated baptism of fire the first time he faced the notorious Wimbledon Crazy Gang from Vinnie Jones.
This former Russian international winger was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson from Shakhtar Donetsk in 1991 for £650,000.
He went on to play 123 top-flight matches, scoring 28 goals, throughout his four-year stay and won the title twice and lifted both the FA Cup and League Cup.
The man in question is, of course, the now 54-year-old Andrei Kanchelskis, who went on to play for the likes of Everton, Manchester City, Southampton and Rangers after United.
However, while speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes Fanzone about current United attacker Antony’s problems, he revealed how he was left shocked after a blast from Welsh hardman turned Hollywood star Jones shortly after his arrival from Ukraine.
Kanchelskis said: “When I first moved to England, it was a completely different experience for me, compared to anything I’d been used to.
“When I think back to some of the names I came up against, those tough, old-school, English centre-backs, the Tony Dorigos and so on… it was a really tough experience.
“My English wasn’t the best at the time, but I can remember hearing and understanding exactly what Vinnie Jones said when I first faced him and he called me a f****** w*****!
“It was a shock to the system so I’d be lying if I didn’t say it took me some time to get used to. But I got there, and I’m grateful for my time in England, and the support I got from Man United and Everton fans.
“I thank them so much, because I know at times I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be, but they stuck by me… and that’s what I’m asking them to do with Antony.”
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Meanwhile, he also urged Antony to learn from one of the quiet, unsung heroes of the 1999 Treble-winning team.
The Brazilian, 23, arrived at Old Trafford from Ajax for a whopping £85.5million last summer.
He has produced a rollercoaster of displays so far for United with his trickery proving to be both hit and miss with supporters and former players who are now pundits.
Antony has scored six goals for the Red Devils and ex-United winger Kanchelskis has advised him to take a leaf out of former full-back Denis Irwin’s book in order to succeed.
He said: “My advice for Man United fans is to please just be patient with Antony.
“I really believe the club have a great player in him – there’s no question about it. His problem right now is finding that consistency. One game he’s great, the next? Not so good.
“But he’s still so young and I’m confident he can go on to be a success at United.
“Consistency is such a hard thing to find, though. In fact, there’s only one player I can think of during my time at the club, who I can honestly say was consistently good in every single match, and that was Denis Irwin.
“He’s the only player I know who was at the same level in every game. I would say to all players – including Antony – that Irwin is the level of consistency you should strive for.
“I’m very lucky to say I played with him; he’s a great guy.”
Kanchelski added: “Antony needs time, and that’s all I ask of Man United fans: give him time. I’m sure after one season playing in England – which is a really tough place to adapt to and settle in – he can go on to be a real success. Wait for him, please; he’s a great player.”
Irish ace Irwin moved to United 12 months earlier than the flanker and was undoubtedly one of Fergie’s greatest ever signings as he proved a snip at just £625,000 from Oldham.
In 12 years at Old Trafford, he made 296 Premier League appearances and won seven Premier League titles, as well as two FA Cup winner’s medals, a League Cup and the Champions league and European Cup Winners’ Cup.
He was also an expert at both free-kicks and penalties, and he managed to score 22 league goals for the club throughout that period.