I have been delaying writing this for a while now. I guess I’ve been trying to plan it in my head since the room silencing news that Old Trafford would lose its greatest driving force in the clubs history, but until now I’ve yet to find the words, which if you know me, seems barely possible on any subject.
I’ve followed football for more than two decades now, from a kid with a United-poster strewn bedroom to an adult living half way around the world and waking up at horrific hours of the morning to watch my team play – they are My Manchester United. I have seen United win, lose and everything in between. I have seen legends start their first game and end their last. I have seen opposition sides strengthen and weaken through decades. I have seen the game itself change along with every team in the leagues managers, kits and players. Suffice to say I have seen a lot happen in football over the last 22 years.
One thing I have never seen is a Manchester United sideline without Sir Alex Ferguson on it.
After the last home game against Swansea I battled to fight back the tears. It may sound stupid to those of you who aren’t emotionally invested in sports but to watch a man (or woman) lead a sporting team to greatness somehow resonates with me on a very deep level, but to watch someone have the hunger and passion to do it for 25 years plus is something that has been a privilege and an honor to be able to share in and something I doubt I will ever feel again.
At the start of the season I predicted glory but then again as a United supporter we have almost come to expect this. That’s the magic of Fergie. From his first interview at the club you can feel the humility, focus and the pride that drives the man. You can see in his eyes that he wasn’t in it for the glory or the money, which in todays game seems impossible, he was in it to build something great, to create and shape the future of club that would stand as a legacy never to be overshadowed.
He built this legacy day by day, year by year and not with lavish sums of money nor plain luck but with hard hard work, determination and a hunger to win that inspires me as a human being. He never took anything for granted and he never let the name and honor of Manchester United Football Club be tarnished not for a second, unlike some of our greatest historical rivals. He created and shaped the greatest players in the world, not ONE of which having left the club went on to be more successful.
Even in his final interview, on an occasion that so many people would have taken, rightly so, to bathe in their own glory he thanked everyone for helping him build the Manchester United legend that exists today and he heaped praise on players, coaching staff and fans, and with his final words he gave an instruction to the fans to support his successor. Its men like him that inspire me and moments like these that reduce me to tears.
I wont go through his countless achievements and his honor role of trophies and accolades but suffice to say he pretty much did it all and if, like we so often wish in life, time wasn’t catching up with him he probably would continue to scale even greater heights.
So Sir Alex, from an anonymous Manchester United supporter I want to thank you.
Thank you from the boy who got to admire the teams you created, whose images were stuck to his wall only to be replaced by wave after wave of players you built and created. Thank you for the moments of highs and of lows and for your unwavering commitment and dedication to the success of the club above all else. Thank you for being a leader I can ultimately be proud of in every respect and who just by sheer virtue of who you are inspires me to be better. Thank you for creating Fergie time and for allowing me to fundamentally believe nothing is ever done until it’s done. Thank you for never allowing anyone to be bigger than the club and what it represents and for never allowing any ego or actions to over shadow the honor of the club. Thank you for allowing us, the fans, to be part of something magical and historical for all these years. Thank you for it all Sir!
I hope by some slim miracle I have the honor of shaking your hand one day and looking you in the eye to deliver this thank you in person.
Goodbye Sir Alex, you will remain in our hearts and our stories always and we will forever be your Red Army!