SIR ALEX FERGUSON came close to managing the Team GB football squad at the London 2012 Olympics, according to Seb Coe.
Wednesday is exactly 10 years since Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening ceremony kick-started the Games in East London.
Sir Alex Ferguson was up for coaching Team GB at London 2012Credit: Getty
Lord Coe wanted to get Sir Alex onboardCredit: Reuters
Coe, 65, wanted the former Manchester United boss to lead out the men’s British football team, which was a mix of Under-23s Premier League and Championship stars plus three over-aged members.
The pair held several conversations during the 2007-08 season – including one in a SUPERMARKET aisle – and Ferguson agreed to the proposal.
Lord Coe recalled: “We got very close to him taking over. I came up with the idea because we were having a bit of fragility around our Celtic cousins.
“It suddenly occurred to me that the one unifying influence in all that would be having a not necessarily English coach.
“It was ostensibly an English team, there were a smattering of Welsh players but effectively, it was an English side.
“I thought I can’t imagine any club that’s going to release professional players to an Olympic team having a problem with their Under-23 players getting a six-week tutelage or masterclass from Alex Ferguson on the training ground.
“I didn’t speak to a soul about it but I rang up Bob Charlton. He said: ‘I’ll tell Alex to give you a call.’
“Weeks went by. I was in a Tesco in Cobham – a stone’s throw from the Chelsea training ground – on a Friday night filling baskets full of food for my kids and I got a call.
“It was a no ID and I was at the butter and fats counter. He said: ‘Seb, it’s Alex here.’
“I threw a load of cash at one of my daughters to keep filling the trolley and I said this is the stuff for a long conversation, I’m in the supermarket.
“I did explain what my theory was because Bob hadn’t actually told him. He’d just asked him to give me a call.
“So Alex rang and said: ‘Oh, I thought you were looking for tickets.’
“I put him through the idea and he said: ‘Well, I don’t know.’ Then there was a gap and then he went: ‘Oh Jesus, I’m already picking the team in my head.’
“I said I’m not having another conversation with anyone. Just have a think about it, it’s only me. I didn’t mention it to a living soul.
“I then went to the BBC review of the year in 2007 and Alex was there to give Bobby Robson a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“After the presentation, Bob and Alex were sitting where I was. I walked over to Bob and said: ‘Congratulations, it couldn’t have gone to a nicer and better coach.’
We got pretty close to it. I’ve always laughed with Alex afterwards
“Alex looked at me and said: ‘The answer’s yes.’ I said fine. We never said anymore other than that we’d speak again.”
In the end, Fergie never took on the role – he went on to win a 13th and final Premier League crown before announcing his shock retirement from football in May 2013.
It appears resistance from Manchester United, the FA and British Olympic Association meant Fergie never took the reins like Sir Matt Busby did with the British side at the London 1948 Olympics.
Stuart Pearce, then the England Under-21s chief, ended up leading out the players on home soil a decade ago.
But it was the wrong call as the Brits were disappointingly defeated on penalties by South Korea in the quarter-finals in Cardiff.
Coe added: “We got pretty close to it. I’ve always laughed with Alex afterwards.
“I bump into him fairly regularly. He often wonders whether he missed out on a really good experience. The players would have benefited a lot from him.
“That was one of my disappointments – that I never got Alex Ferguson across the line.
“The BOA decided that Stuart Peace probably had better credentials. That was a slight disappointment.”
Stuart Pearce coached Team GB to the quarter-finalsCredit: AFP
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.