My heartfelt tribute to…”NEVER GIVE IN”…A documentary on the Maestro of Football Fraternity, Sir Alex Ferguson

July 2, 2021

Once he quoted-“Football, bloody hell!”Yes, he is none other than a divisive figure in the football fraternity, Sir Alex Ferguson and this statement is quite self-explanatory. A few days back when the knock-out stages of the UEFA EURO 2020 had been on and with Denmark’s delightful victory over Wales and Spain’s courageous comeback against Croatia made a lot of people follow the Italian Sports journalist and transfer market Guru, Fabrizio Romano to post their reaction on those inconceivable victories with the tagline ‘Football, bloody hell’. That day I thought that this was more of an expression but now I understand the source of this phrase and the emotion associated with it.

Sir Alex Ferguson. That’s it. It’s because his name is enough to bring millions of football fans together with memories of their own; even if you are not a Manchester United fan you are bound to admire him for his personality. So, last night I came across his documentary made by his son Jason Ferguson in association with Amazon UK. I turned all the work aside and sat for the best two hours of the week. I will share some of my thoughts on it and would like to say to everyone reading this, please go ahead and watch it.

“I am a Govan boy”, that is how Sir Alex describes himself, and “Football was my savior, it helped me progress”. Govan is a riverside district in the city of Glasgow. Sir Alex’s father was a shipyard worker and he even worked as an apprentice in the toolmaker’s factory in his earlier days as a football player. He went on to establish his point that a person needs to recognize his roots because that is what defines them. All your life, you will go places meet new people, take up various jobs but that identity that you build for yourself should always come from your family. The sacrifices of your family, the toil that your father or grandfather had to go through so that you can be in the place where you are today should always be the driving force behind your work ethics.

Sir Alex with the local newspaper after he scored a hatrick against Rangers FC

Glasgow in the 1960s was a place that comprised of two sects- Protestants and Catholics’; Rangers and Celtics. These two factors affected Sir Alex’s life more than we can imagine. He said- “As human beings adversity is a part of our lives and when that happens you find yourself”. So, “Never give in”. This mantra was the impetus of his career. He faced a lot of obstacles as a player for the Rangers, then as a manager of Aberdeen FC where he went on to make Aberdeen FC one of the most successful football teams in all of Britain and beat Alfredo di Stefano’s Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners’ cup in 1983.

Success always comes with a price. The European Cup is the ultimate prize for clubs in Europe. After winning all the trophies that he had possibly achieved for Aberdeen, Sir Alex took up the job as a Manchester United manager in 1986. The goal was to resurrect the club from the ashes wherein Sir Alex’s words- “Gods were made”. In his first time stepping into the pitch at Old Trafford he felt as though the spirits of the glory days were coming down to haunt him as the huge structure stood in all its elegance. It is after his injection of passion and romanticism that the Old Trafford was given the name of the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.

The journey of Sir Alex with United is well known to everyone. It took him some time to build the team from the foundation as it had been a totally ‘dysfunctional unit’, when he first arrived as the manager. He brought on the French international striker Eric Cantona and gave him the freedom to express himself on the pitch and in Cantona’s words-“When a manager like Alex Ferguson gives you the freedom you have to deserve it”. Sir Alex had spotted Ryan Gigs when he was 17 years old in a reserves game and brought him under his wing along with the likes of Paul Scholes, David Beckham, the Neville brothers(Gary and Phil), Roy Keane, Nicky Butt all part of the ‘Class of 92’.

His vision was so clear that when the world was against him he turned around and said-“I am close and we are going to do it”. He had done it and he achieved it. He reached the epitome of success and made Manchester United one of the biggest clubs in the World by winning the treble for them in 1998-1999 season and at the end of all the victory and the chaos that had come with it, there was only one person he wanted by his side was his wife Cathy. ‘Memories’ he says are the most important thing about his life. Now, suffering from a brain hemorrhage in the September of 2018 he felt that that if he had lost his memory then it would all have been meaningless.

After watching a documentary on such a legendary personality, it’s always necessary to reflect on what had been observed and what could be learned from it. For me, this man’s immeasurable passion for football and the sheer determination to prove himself against all atrocities that he went through and how a boy brought up in a humble household amid the Scottish working class just living 200 meters from the Rangers Stadium marched on towards his dreams and aspirations and became our ‘God of football’. The takeaway from all this should be ‘Never Give In’, no matter what. If you have an aim just go for it.