Ferguson: I almost quit football

However, he had a change of heart after harsh words from his mother

and responded with a “life-changing” hat-trick against Rangers.

Ferguson, 68, may be the most successful British manager of all

time but back in the 1960s he was struggling to make his mark as

centre-forward with St Johnstone. He said: “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. “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 related the story to students in

Glasgow with his remarks posted on United’s website also gave an

insight into how football has changed. He is in his 24th year at

Old Trafford and has won over 30 trophies, including 11 Premier

League titles and two European Cups. United, who are looking to

make it an unprecedented four successive Premier League crowns, are

at home to struggling Portsmouth on Saturday. Ferguson is as driven

as ever but is not certain many share his undying love for the

game. He said: “Young players now are more fragile, they are more

cocooned. They are encouraged by an insatiable press to think they

are better than they really are, and they are protected by their

agents. “But you have to deal with that in sport now. You have to

be very conciliatory.”