Now 38, Irwin continues to ply his trade at the top level with Wolves, visitors to the Lane on Saturday.
Irwin made his name at Oldham before a trophy-laden 12 years - including seven titles, FA Cup, League Cup and the Champions League - at Manchester United between 1990-2002. He moved to Molineux in 2002-03, helped Wolves into the Premiership and opted for what is believed will be a final season.
Our stand-in skipper Steve, 12 years Irwin's junior, recalled how he used to watch Irwin play for Ireland as a fan in Dublin before climbing up the ranks himself and joining him in the squad.
Steve eventually took over Irwin's international role and admits he couldn't wait for him to retire!
"Denis has been one of best quality full-backs around," said Steve. "He's done it all at the top level.
"He's been unbelievable and he's still going, which is a credit to him. He's looked after himself. He's a great professional, works hard at his game and that's why he's still playing.
"I'd say Denis and Lee Dixon were the best right-backs in the Premiership for a long time.
"I learned a lot from him. I used to watch Denis a lot with the Irish team when I was a fan and then when I was in the Irish squad watching him close up.
"He's also a very nice man, a gentleman and he deserves what he's got out of his career.
"He's now at Wolves and seeing things from the other end of the table after being at the top for so long. His experience must be valuable. He's been a great player, still is. He's been one of the best."
Stephen Carr sees Denis Irwin as one of the best right-backs in Premiership history.