Sir Alex Ferguson came within a phone call of giving up on a professional football and emigrating to Canada, the knight of the realm revealed today. Amazingly, the Scot, who is the most successful British manager ever, had applied to emigrate as a 22-year-old in 1963 after becoming disillusioned in Scotland.
“I was part-time and in a reserve game against Airdrie I broke my eyebrow, cheekbone and nose and was out for months. They put this massive plaster cast on my face,” Ferguson told a group of Glaswegian students this week.
“After I came back from the injury I played three reserve games. We lost 8-1, 7-0 and 9-2. I said ‘that’s it – I am finished’. I took out papers to emigrate to Canada.
“On the Friday, my brother’s girlfriend phoned up my manager at St Johnstone and told him I had the flu. But when I arrived home from a night at the swimming baths with my pals, my mother tore into me.
“She said, ‘I’ve had a telegram from your manager – get down to the telephone booth and call him’. The manager said: ‘Report to the Bath Hotel tomorrow, you’re playing against Rangers’.
“I scored a hat trick and became the first player to do so against Rangers at Ibrox – it changed my life. I became a full-time footballer in the summer and never looked back.”
Ferguson, who was signed with St. Johnstone at the time, transferred first to Dumfirline and then to Rangers in a journeyman career that also brought spells at Queen’s Park, Falkirk and Ayr United.
Ferguson’s first managerial gig came at East Stirlingshire in 1974. He was just 32-years-old. The rest, as they say, is history.