'There's only one Peter Schmeichel.' The chorus
once sung with fervour in the football-mad city of Manchester is
being heard there again, albeit with one slight
modification. Instead of Schmeichel Sr, it is his son Kasper who is
the subject of high praise and the fans of Manchester City who are
belting out their support.
Clearly Kasper's progress owes a great deal to his father for passing down the ability to shine as a goalkeeper and also for the physique that will eventually see him fill the goals as impressively as dad once did. But there is an argument that says it is doubly difficult for the sons of sporting heroes to make their own way in the same field.
And for the young man to be setting out on the career ladder at City - arch-rivals of neighbours United, to whom his father gave such distinguished service - where attention was naturally going to be fierce following the arrival of Sven-Goran Eriksson as manager, requires courage to go with all his other attributes.
At 20, he is very young to be keeping goal in the English Premiership, where the pantheon of world-renowned strikers trying to make life difficult for their opponent between the posts grows with every new season. But Schmeichel, thrust into the spotlight because of injury to City's more senior keepers, met the challenge full on and proceeded to play a big part in their successful start to the season, which saw them win their first three games without conceding a goal.
One of those came against their fierce local enemies, and it must have been to Sir Alex Ferguson's chagrin that barring United's way to their first three-point haul in the defence of their title was a certain young Schmeichel. Another shut-out would have seen City establish a new club record but a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal put paid to that. Nevertheless, that game saw him save a Robin van Persie penalty amid other fine stops and he almost scored himself with a towering header from a corner in City's late pursuit of an equaliser.
It only added to the similarities with his father, who once scored for Aston Villa in the Premier League from a corner. No surprise then that he has made a big impression in a short space of time on his manager. "After four games in the Premier League, Kasper is handling it very well," said Eriksson. "He will probably make mistakes as he is still only 20, but the way he works and behaves, you would never guess he is only 20. He has probably learned a lot about the Premier League from his father."
As a youngster Schmeichel was always going to be a goalkeeper - how could he be anything else? Old video footage shows him in the Old Trafford dressing-room area, with striking blond hair and not yet in his teens, trying in vain to stop an equally fresh-faced Alex Bruce - son of former United skipper Steve - from scoring a goal.
His dad ended his playing days at the Maine Road club having given the Red Devils eight wonderful seasons, while it seems Schmeichel junior might well have started out at United rather than City as he trained with both clubs early on.
It seems inevitable that he will one day follow the family line all the way into the Denmark national team and he already possesses U-21 caps. There have been suggestions that having lived in England for so long he could keep goal for the Three Lions, but dad appears to have shut the door firmly on that possibility. "Kasper is Danish," he said. "He has absolutely no chance of playing for England and this discussion should stop now. Kasper was born in Denmark, all his family are Danish and there is nothing that can make him English."