If I was to be brutally honest David Lloyd Wallace probably ranks as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s less successful signings. Although “Danny” will never be in the Massimo Taibi, Ralph Milne school of rubbishness, Wallace is probably considered not too far behind- around the Karel Poborsky, Jonathan Greening mark.
However, while I’m not about to try and claim Wallace’s time at Old Trafford was a stunning success, there’s no doubt many United fans hold the diminutive winger in much higher regard than many other former Reds.
The reason Danny Wallace deserves a lot more respect than his United playing record would suggest is because he suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and has worked tirelessly to help fellow sufferers via his Danny Wallace Foundation charity.
In fact I’ll go even further and add that it’s been acknowledged that Wallace may have been suffering from the effects of the disease while he was still playing at Old Trafford- now all of a sudden his disappointing United career suddenly looks a lot more impressive.
Wallace arrived at Old Trafford in the late eighties along with the likes of Gary Pallister, Paul Ince and Neil Webb as Sir Alex- or plain old ‘Fergie’ as he was known then- threw what many believed to be his last throw of the transfer dice at United with a spending spree.
An explosive winger who could have rivaled Paul Parker in the shortest trouser stakes, Wallace made his name at Southampton where he was impressive enough to earn a glowing reputation and an England Cap. In fact not many players can claim to have a 100 per cent England goal scoring record but that is exactly what Wallace has, scoring in his only international appearance against Egypt.
Wallace was snapped up by Fergie who needed a dangerous option down the left side in the pre- Ryan Giggs and even pre- Lee Sharpe days.
Although Wallace’s time at Old Trafford was a disappointment I have two very fond memories of the tiny winger. The first was as a ten -year-old watching Wallace score against Oldham in the FA Cup semi-final, a goal that caused my dad to smash the shade off the ceiling light in joy. Unfortunately it wasn’t the winner as Oldham equalised but United of course won the replay and the subsequent FA Cup Final replay with Wallace playing his part.
My second memory of him is the picture I had but have now unfortunately lost of myself and Wallace, taken at the Cliff training ground in the early 90’s. I can’t be older than 13 yet still tower over the little winger with my arm round him as though he’s my little brother- despite the fact he’s approaching 30.
Wallace left United for Birmingham in 1993 for £250,000- less than a quarter of what United had paid for him back in ’89. It would be easy to forget about Wallace, after all he was succeeded first by Lee Sharpe and then Ryan Giggs. Yet it’s the subsequent story of Wallace’s diagnosis and struggle against Multiple Sclerosis- which is a debilitating disease that can make even getting out of bed an enormous task- which has made Wallace a truly inspiring figure.
In 2006 Wallace walked the London Marathon in five days to help raise money for his charity. He was greeted at the finish line by boxer Michael Watson who has himself completed the marathon in seven days after suffering brain injuries in a World title fight with Chris Eubank.
Danny Wallace won’t have any statues built of him at Old Trafford and his name may not even register any recognition to United fans born after the mid eighties. Yet despite a United career that peaked after only a few months and would never shine nearly as brightly as was hoped, Wallace is a man who deserves the utmost respect for fighting such a terrible disease, with the heart of a man who truly deserved to wear the red shirt of United.
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