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Sir Alex's five dates with destiny

Published: Wednesday 8 May 2013, 10.59CET
A final success with Aberdeen FC, European triumphs with Manchester United FC and an unexpected encounter on a golf course; rounds up Sir Alex Ferguson's finest hours.
Sir Alex's five dates with destiny
Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates winning the 1982/83 European Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 8 May 2013, 10.59CET

Sir Alex's five dates with destiny

A final success with Aberdeen FC, European triumphs with Manchester United FC and an unexpected encounter on a golf course; rounds up Sir Alex Ferguson's finest hours.

Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to retire from football, bringing down the curtain on an extraordinary career. picks out the dates that defined the coach's contribution to the game.

11 May 1983, Aberdeen FC 2-1 Real Madrid CF
European Cup Winners' Cup final, Nya Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg
"Don't tell anybody, but believe me, what a chance we have got," Sir Alex had told his assistant Archie Knox before the game. Beating FC Bayern München in the quarter-finals was fairly incredible, but this final success in soggy Gothenberg was something else entirely for Alex Ferguson's side. Juanito's penalty cancelled out Eric Black's seventh-minute opener, but the Dons' stole the day in extra time, John Hewitt heading in Mark McGhee's cross after 112 minutes. Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stéfano summed it up: "Aberdeen have what money can't buy; a soul, a team spirit built in a family tradition."

©Getty Images

6 November 1986, Appointed as Manchester United FC manager
Arsenal FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Rangers FC had all sounded Sir Alex out during his time at Aberdeen, but it took a call from Old Trafford for the Scot – then 44 – to leave Pittodrie. He was chosen to replace Ron Atkinson, but it took a strong argument from club legend Sir Bobby Charlton to persuade United's directors to select Sir Alex ahead of Terry Venables. ''I asked my fellow directors if they had seen Ferguson on the touchline when Aberdeen scored their victory in Gothenburg,'' recalled Sir Bobby. ''I said he had lived passionately every moment of the game, charging on to the pitch, filling his players with self-belief.'' Sold.

2 May 1993, Oldham Athletic AFC 1-0 Aston Villa FC
Premier League fixture
Sir Alex's early years at United were not easy. United fans vented their frustration at a perceived lack of success in December 1989, with a banner at Old Trafford reading: ''Three years of excuses and it's still crap ... ta-ra Fergie.'' However, United held firm, and were rewarded in the long run. First, the Reds beat Crystal Palace FC to win the FA Cup in 1990, then a side built to his specifications finally won their first English title since 1967, though Sir Alex was out on the golf course when he found out. He recalled: ''A man I didn't know came over the hill with a huge smile on his face and said: 'Excuse me Mr Ferguson, you are the champions. Oldham have won at Villa.'''

26 May 1999 Manchester United FC 2-1 FC Bayern München
UEFA Champions League final, Camp Nou
''Football – bloody hell.'' Sir Alex's response to camera after his side turned final defeat into victory with added time goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær remain part of footballing folklore. It was the first time United had won the top prize in club football under Sir Alex and completed a tremendous treble, following league and FA Cup successes. ''I was just starting to adjust to losing the game,'' Sir Alex said later. ''I had reminded myself to keep my dignity and accept that it wasn't going to be our year. What then happened simply stunned me.'' He was not the only one left gasping for breath.

21 May 2008 Manchester United FC 1-1 Chelsea FC (aet, United win 6-5 on penalties)
UEFA Champions League final, Luzhniki Stadium
Fifty years on from the Munich air crash, and 40 years since United were first crowned European champions, Edwin van der Sar blocked Nicolas Anelka's spot-kick to clinch a third European Champion Clubs' Cup for United and the second of Sir Alex's reign, John Terry having slipped to miss an earlier effort for Chelsea that would have handed them victory. "I said we wouldn't let the memory of the Busby Babes down," Sir Alex said. "Fate played its hand today. We had a cause which is important and people with causes become very difficult people to fight against."

Last updated: 08/05/13 16.30CET

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