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Sir Alex draws on United past as Wembley awaits

Published: Saturday 9 April 2011, 13.35CET
Three games from a showpiece back at the scene of Manchester United FC's 1968 triumph, Sir Alex Ferguson spoke to UEFA.com about the club's "fantastic history" and family environment.

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Published: Saturday 9 April 2011, 13.35CET

Sir Alex draws on United past as Wembley awaits

Three games from a showpiece back at the scene of Manchester United FC's 1968 triumph, Sir Alex Ferguson spoke to UEFA.com about the club's "fantastic history" and family environment.

The first English winners of the European Champion Clubs' Cup back in 1968, Sir Alex Ferguson feels Manchester United FC can draw on such rich history in their bid to return next month to the scene of that Wembley triumph.

Hopefully we can be there, and once we get there we can have a thought about Matt Busby and what he achieved with this club, because it's a fantastic history.
Sir Alex Ferguson on United's Wembley quest

Sir Matt Busby masterminded that success of 43 years ago, SL Benfica defeated 4-1 beneath the old Wembley's twin towers. That stadium has been replaced by a newer model which hosts its first UEFA Champions League final on 28 May. United, 1-0 up ahead of Tuesday's home quarter-final second leg against Chelsea FC, may be within sniffing distance but Sir Alex does not view the venue as a lucky one.

"I don't put a special significance on the fact we won it there in 1968," he told UEFA.com. "I think we've got our own challenges and our own pride, and to be part of the history of Manchester United is important. I think the club over the last 20-odd years have done that very well. Hopefully we can be there, and once we get there we can have a thought about Matt Busby and what he achieved with this club, because it's a fantastic history."

It was not until 1999 that United added to that achievement in the English capital, defeating FC Bayern München in dramatic fashion for a second European Cup. A third arrived nine years later – on the 40th anniversary of their first – to further augment the club and its manager's European pedigree.

Eleven Premier League titles have also been banked during the Scot's remarkable Old Trafford reign, the 37-year-old Ryan Giggs present for them all. The likes of Paul Scholes and the retired Gary Neville have also been mainstays of an unprecedentedly successful side, a harmony which can only be beneficial according to Sir Alex.

"It's a family club and always has been," he said. "Very seldom does a player want to leave Manchester United. It therefore generates comfort for players to be here. Players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville have created a certain example to all the players here, that staying at Manchester United for a long time can be a benefit.

"Nobody can get into the training ground, it's completely private, so the training performances are not under a microscope. The players are relaxed coming here. The mood is terrific, they enjoy training.

"Obviously it doesn't happen very often nowadays, but if you look at the example of Manchester United now: Wes Brown has been with us since 12 years of age, and he's now 31 – people forget that. John O'Shea has been here since he was 16, he's been 14 years at the club. They've been here since they were schoolboys."

One player less than 12 months into his United career is Javier Hernández, the Mexico striker who has scored 11 league goals in his first season in England. "He has been fantastic," said Sir Alex. "The boy wants to be a player. He's come from a football tradition; his grandfather, his father, and himself have played for Mexico in World Cup finals. I don't think it has ever been done before.

"It gives him a certain respect for what his parents and grandparents have achieved. It also gives him the drive and the energy to try and do well. I think that shows in the way he trains and the way he plays. He obviously needed some time to settle in when he first came, but that period is over: he's now a first-team player."

Last updated: 07/12/13 5.30CET

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