Robbie Savage – the man with a penchant for controversial opinions, hair styles and dance routines – tells us why being part of Manchester United's famous Class of '92 has led him to joining Men United and organising his very own Lads Night In.
As a football fan, it’s difficult to escape the larger-than-life former Welsh international Robbie Savage. He seems to be everywhere as a regular pundit for BT Sport, BBC Five Live and the Daily Mirror, and briefly became a housewives' favourite after competing on Strictly Come Dancing a few years ago. So we reckon hosting a friendly game of poker with mates should be a walk in the park for the former footballer turned pundit.
While not a big gambler himself, Robbie's looking forward to welcoming a bunch of mates on Friday 25 September for a very special night as part of Lads Night In, where mates everywhere will be getting together to do something amazing to beat prostate cancer.
"I like a nice game of poker with the lads now and again," he tells us, though he admits he's more likely to win at pool or table tennis. "I’ve never really won anything, but it’s a good sociable game so I’m really looking forward to hosting the game with them on the night."
On Robbie's invite list are his old schoolmates and Darren Fletcher, his regular radio pundit partner-in-crime on 606.
"I’m not really into the celebrity life," he says. "So I’d just have Darren Fletcher and my best mates from school there: Jamie, Toffee and Nutty."
Back at the start of his career, Robbie hung around with a rather more renowned bunch of mates. You might have heard of them: Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, Butt and the Neville brothers to name the most well known of what became the famous Class of '92. Under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson, they were arguably the most talented set of young players football had seen since the equally illustrious Busby Babes of the 1950s.
You’ll never see it ever again in world football, I don’t believe. To see as many players come through and to win as many caps and trophies. Nobody could envisage at the time that that group would be as successful as they were.
"Who’d have thought David Beckham would be one of the most famous men in the world? Paul Scholes one of the greatest ever midfielders? Ryan Giggs, to be one of the most decorated players in British football? Nicky Butt, Keith Gillespie. Gary Neville... it’s incredible, really. What a team."
The combative midfielder was disappointed not to progress with Manchester United like the other members of that intake, but went on to have a successful and high profile career with Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Crewe Alexandra, Derby County, and Leicester City after leaving Old Trafford.
But it was in that famous youth team in 1992 where Robbie was coached by Nobby Stiles, the Manchester United legend who is now part of Men United, the movement for everyone who believes men are worth fight for. After hearing of the World Cup winner’s battle with prostate cancer, Robbie was keen to support a fun Friday fundraiser in support of a man who kept him on the straight and narrow at the start of this career.
"Nobby Stiles helped me so much throughout my career – without him I wouldn’t have been as successful," he says. "He was such a fit, athletic, mobile person in his football career. To see him now fighting the disease just shows it can affect anybody. After what he did in ’66, I'm sure the whole of England is wishing him well."
Robbie’s fondness for his former coach also lies in their similarities as players.
I’m sure there were technically better players than Nobby, but his desire, his dedication – which he’s showing in this fight against prostate cancer – was there for everyone to see.
Since finishing his professional playing career, Robbie continues to keep a keen eye on his own health.
"I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, so any little slight problem, I’m on the phone to all of my ex club doctors," he says. "I’m lucky: I’ve got three in my phone so I get three different opinions. I’m one of these people who’ll get things checked on a regular basis. John Hartson, another good mate of mine, had cancer and he left it a long time before he got checked out and he could have lost his life. So I urge people that any slight problem, get it checked as soon as you can."
With a firm sense of who is real friends are and a hotline to at least three doctors, Robbie should fit nicely into his new role with Men United. A perfect ambassador for a night in with the lads!