Sir Alex Ferguson is recognised as being one of the greatest football managers of all time, with a track record including 27 successful years as the manager of Manchester United – one of the biggest football clubs in the world.
He guided the club through the most successful period in its history, winning a total of 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, two UEFA Champions League trophies and five FA Cup wins. Since his retirement in 2013, his successors haven’t even come close to repeating his achievements.
Prior to becoming a football manager, Sir Alex, who grew up in Govan, Glasgow, in the 1940s, played as a forward for a number of Scottish clubs and was the league’s top goal scorer.
He started playing for Harmony Row Boys’ Club as a kid and then signed for youth team, Drumchapel Amateurs, before making his senior debut with Queen’s Park when he was 16.
He played for several Scottish clubs before joining Dunfermline Athletic in 1964, where he became the top goal scorer of the Scottish league in his second season, with 31 goals to his credit. He then joined Rangers for a record signing fee of £65,000 the following year and scored six goals in nine appearances in European matches.
Sir Alex retired from playing football in 1974, when he was 32. His final club was Ayr United.
Sir Alex became a football manager right away while he was still 32, which is an exceptionally young age. His first management job was with East Stirlingshire, helping to mould his style of being a strict disciplinarian. He was also renowned for his skills in motivating key players and blending lots of egos into a team.
During the 1970s and ’80s, he led Aberdeen to victory in Europe in the 1982/3 season in the European Cup Winners’ Cup, beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the final. Aberdeen became only the third Scottish club in history to win a European title. In 1985, he was awarded the OBE for his services to football.
In the run-up to the 1986 World Cup, he was part of the coaching staff of the Scottish national squad but suddenly found himself thrust into the spotlight after manager Jock Stein’s sudden and tragic death from a heart attack on 10th September 1985.
Sir Alex was put in charge of the Scotland squad, but unfortunately, they failed to qualify for the World Cup and he subsequently stepped down in June 1986.
Looking to English football after his brief stint as Scotland manager, he joined Manchester United as manager on 6th November 1986, after Ron Atkinson was sacked due to a succession of poor results.
He won his first trophy in 1990 when Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in the FA Cup final. After beating Barcelona 2-1 in the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup final, there was no stopping Sir Alex or the squad and they went from strength to strength, winning their first Premier League title in 1993.
They went one better in 1994 by winning both the league cup and the FA cup and achieved the same victories in 1996, becoming the first club in history to win the double twice. In 1999, they won the treble – the Premier League, the European Cup and the FA Cup. Sir Alex received his knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Throughout the early 21st century, Sir Alex’s winning streak with Manchester United continued. He had planned on retiring in 2002 but was asked to stay on. He agreed to do so and led the club to victory in the Premier League in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2013.
Sir Alex managed his 1,000th league game with Manchester United in 2012 and eventually went out on a high with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa. He retired after the club won its record 20th league title in 2013.
After gaining the respect of players and fans alike during his long and illustrious career, Sir Alex Ferguson has proved to be a hard act to follow!
The Old Trafford North Stand was renamed the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and a statue was erected at Old Trafford in his honour.
Sir Alex is currently recovering well from a brain haemorrhage suffered in May 2018, when he had emergency life-saving surgery.
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