Champions League

Ferguson: Passion still burning

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson (L) and club director Bobby Chalrton.
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Sir Alex Ferguson says games such as tonight's Champions League clash with Real Madrid are the reason he cannot walk away from the game.

Now 71, and inching towards an incredible 27 years as Manchester United manager, Ferguson retains all the enthusiasm and hunger of his youth.

Long after many of the men tipped to replace him have seen their own managerial careers grind to a halt, Ferguson is still going strong, apparently with no intention of standing aside.

It is possibly one of the reasons Madrid boss Jose Mourinho dismissed his chances of one day ending up at Old Trafford in a light-hearted interview with MUTV last night and underlines why Ferguson flicked away another question on the subject during his pre-match press conference.

However, in his programme notes ahead of tonight's game, the United manager has outlined the relish with which he is approaching a contest Mourinho has stated the whole world will stop for.

"People ask me why I don't retire after so many years in the game but how could anyone with an ounce of passion for football in their soul voluntarily walk away from the opportunity to be involved in this type of occasion?" Ferguson told United Review.

"This is what it is all about - a packed Old Trafford, the floodlights on, the pitch glistening and two of the greatest and romantic clubs in the game about to do battle.

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"Manchester United and Real Madrid are indelibly written into football history, with so many great players gracing the stage here over the years, and from time to time enjoying the glory that comes with winning this most elusive of prizes.

"The tales of 'derring-do' as we strive to prove we are the best in Europe illuminate the seasons and I like to think that the pioneers like Sir Matt Busby and Santiago Bernabeu, the president of Real Madrid who gave his name to the stadium, will be up there smiling and as excited as the rest of us at the prospect of another dramatic night featuring the best that the game can provide."

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