Fergie was blocked from managing Team GB football team despite saying “yes”
Sir Alex Ferguson was blocked from managing the Team GB football team at London 2012 despite committing himself to the Olympics, it's been revealed.
The legendary Manchester United manager was approached by the head of the organising committee, Seb Coe, about taking charge of the side which was made up of under-23 Premier League and Championship players and three established stars – Craig Bellamy, Ryan Giggs and Micah Richards.
Recalling the events of 10 years ago, Coe said: “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.
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“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.
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"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'.
“Alex looked at me and said, ‘The answer’s yes’. I said fine. We never said anymore other than that we’d speak again.”
Sir Alex ultimately didn't take up the role, with United, the FA and the British Olympic Association all getting in the way. Stuart Pearce, who was manager of England under-21s at the time, was chosen instead, with Team GB dumped out by South Korea in the quarter-finals.
Coe continued: "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."
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