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31 December 2021

‘Football, bloody hell’ – Sir Alex Ferguson’s most memorable quotes as he marks his 80th birthday

31 December 2021

Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden reign at Manchester United was illuminated by his often fiery rhetoric.

From withering put-downs to sparkling praise, the Scot has created a catalogue of memorable quotes.

Here, as he celebrates his 80th birthday, we take a look at some of the most notable.

Sir Alex Ferguson got his hands on the Champions League in 1999 (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Archive)

On Liverpool:

“My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f***ing perch. And you can print that.”

On Manchester City’s emergence as a Premier League force:

“There has been a lot of expectation on Manchester City and with the spending they have done, they have to win something. Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour and have to live with it. You can’t do anything about them.”

Sir Alex Ferguson, right, did not rate Jose Mourinho’s wine choices (Sean Dempsey/PA) (PA Archive)

On Jose Mourinho:

“He was certainly full of it, calling me ‘Boss’ and ‘Big Man’ when we had our post-match drink after the first leg. But it would help if his greetings were accompanied by a decent glass of wine. What he gave me was paint-stripper.”

On Arsene Wenger:

“They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages. I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!”

Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, left, initially had a notoriously frosty relationship (Rui Vieira/PA) (PA Archive)

On Rafael Benitez:

“I think he is very concerned about his CV, he refers to it quite a lot.”

On his bust-up with Newcastle boss Alan Pardew:

“The press have had a field day. The only person they have not spoken to is Barack Obama because he is busy.”

On the incident during which former midfielder David Beckham was struck on the head by a flying boot:

“It was a freakish incident. If I tried it 100 or a million times it couldn’t happen again. If I could I would have carried on playing!”

Ferguson kicked a boot in frustration once, inadvertently hitting David Beckham, pictured, just above his left eye (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Archive)

On the mind games employed by Italian teams:

“When an Italian tells me it’s pasta on the plate, I check under the sauce to make sure. They are the inventors of the smokescreen.”

On seeing Ryan Giggs as a schoolboy:

“I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.”

Sir Alex Ferguson bought Wayne Rooney to Old Trafford (Gareth Copley/PA) (PA Archive)

On Wayne Rooney’s decision to sign a new contract:

“Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in the field.”

On Real Madrid’s hopes of signing Cristiano Ronaldo:

“Do you think I would get into a contract with that mob? Jesus Christ, no chance. I wouldn’t sell them a virus.”

Manchester United won the Champions League in dramatic circumstances (Phil Noble/PA) (PA Archive)

On United’s dramatic Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich in 1999:

“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football, bloody hell.”

On retirement:

“The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time.”

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