Especially following the recently released film, “Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In”, the heartfelt new documentary directed by the Scotsman’s own son, Jason.
On May 5, 2018, the iconic former United manager had to undergo emergency surgery after collapsing at home and suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage. That day, the call to emergency services was none other than Jason himself.
His father would eventually need every ounce of the fighting spirit he is known for.
“I think it would have helped, I think subconsciously it would have helped,” Jason Ferguson told CNN Sport. “But ultimately it is in the hands of others.
“You know, he was 75, it was a big bleed. We were told to prepare, to prepare for the worst. He had treated himself and talked to neurosurgeons further, that was a big factor and so, you know, you’re in other people’s hands. “
Know the real man
Alex Ferguson’s United have been thirteen-time champions of England and two-time Kings of Europe. Yet despite huge success and his father’s formidable managerial reputation, Jason says his intention was to capture the man rather than public perception.
“I think it was the day of the Champions League final and my two sons went to watch it with him, and he lost his voice,” Jason recalls. “It’s just gone. He himself says it was terrifying. So it re-triggered the fear that it would impact his memory.
“It took about 10 days for it to come back, but there was a period when he just couldn’t speak, which is not a rare byproduct of the operation he had. was not something he had never been before. So it was a really scary time for him. “
The film delves into Ferguson’s proud Glasgow heritage. It was there that he met Cathy, his beloved wife for over 50 years now.
“All roads lead to Govan,” as Jason puts it.
It is a fascinating story of the life of a young footballer, sometimes in difficulty. Yet now – all these years later – a desire to say it, warts and everything.
“And then he came the next morning, first interview, and I started asking my first question,” Jason said. “And he just said, ‘Stop, stop, stop. I know exactly what I’m going to say.’ And then he just spoke for 20 minutes, and he just completely painted a picture of the world he grew up in as a young boy.
“The sights, sounds and smells and that was us, right away. He remembers his time there very warmly, and at the same time you see him in the movie, there are times he was living there. again in Glasgow which were difficult for him. “
The movie would also prove to be a learning curve for Jason and his two brothers – his twin, former footballer Darren and older brother Mark.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Jason mused. “There were some interviews I did where some personal stuff came out, and I would pick up my brothers ‘phone after that and ask them,’ Did you know? “And they were like, ‘No!’
“Compared to his early days, I was kind of aware that he had had a problem with his father, but I had no idea that they hadn’t spoken for two years. And I kind of knew everything. the element of emigrating to Canada that he had indeed given up for the first time and the only time in his life, that he was moving away from football and emigrating – then fate intervened. “
Indeed, after admitting in the film that he had “gone off the rails a bit”, Alex Ferguson’s move to North America never happened following a life-changing hat-trick against the Rangers. – the team he supported in his childhood and on to play.
It’s no secret that after a huge success in Scotland as a coach with Aberdeen, Ferguson initially struggled at United.
Bad results. A battle to keep his job. And then there was the toll on the family as a whole, including Jason’s mother, Cathy, whom he calls the “rock” of the family.
“She was very nervous during games,” he reveals. “But also, you know, especially in the early years, it wasn’t a pleasant experience for her to watch games at Old Trafford. The team wasn’t winning and the fans were restless.”
But as the title of the film indicates, the boss of the Red Devils at the time “would never give in”.
And then came that night in Barcelona, when Ferguson’s United scored two sensational goals in three minutes of added time in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich to seal what is yet another unprecedented treble for an English team.
“Like he said in the movie, this is the pinnacle,” says Jason. “The greatest moment of his professional career. He had been very successful. They won the championship in 1993, doubled in 94, doubled in 96. But he had not won the European Cup, the Champions League – and you know, with 90 minutes he’s not going to win. “
Yet Jason Ferguson believes his father is not defined by his successes, but rather by his adversity, both before and after what happened in 2018.
“He said the other day that he considered the three years since a bonus and that he would keep moving forward. Everything from this point on is a bonus for him. It has been a very , very good recovery. ”
“Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In” is filled with raw emotions and perhaps nowhere more than when the man widely regarded as the greatest manager of all time prepared for the worst possible scenario by writing to his woman and her family as a whole.
“It was finally a farewell letter,” Jason mused poignantly. “You know he wrote a bunch of letters. To me, my two brothers, his 11 grandchildren and he gave them to me at the hospital one day and they were goodbye letters and I put them on. aside. I didn’t give them to anyone. I didn’t open that door, and he didn’t see that letter again until I handed it to him in the studio.