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How Alex Ferguson became a football legend

  • Story Highlights
  • Alex Ferguson is the most successful manager in English football
  • Born in 1941, Ferguson has played and managed football at top levels
  • Players he has nurtured include David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo
  • He has hinted in recent years he may step down soon -- but keeps winning titles
  • Next Article in World Sport »
By Mike Steere
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Having won 24 trophies in 23 seasons, Alex Ferguson has established himself as the most successful manager in British football history.

Sir Alex Ferguson: English football's most successful manager with 24 titles

Sir Alex Ferguson: English football's most successful manager with 24 titles

But the 67-year-old Manchester United manager, who has brought 10 league titles to the Red Devils in his time there, established his name in football long before he moved to the Old Trafford club in 1986.

Born Alexander Chapman Ferguson in Glasgow on New Year's Eve 1941, Ferguson started his playing career as an amateur at Scottish side Queen's Park when he was just 16, while working as an apprentice tool-worker at the local shipyards.

His first move as a player was to St Johnstone, where he secured his big break. Ferguson scored a hat-trick in an unlikely win against top side Rangers and in the summer of 1964 Dunfermline Athletic offered him his first professional contract.

Ferguson went on to score 66 goals for Dunfermline before a move to Rangers. In 1969 he was blamed for a goal through which Rangers lost the Scottish Cup Final. He eventually left and ended his playing career with stints at Falkirk and Ayr United.

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At just 32, Ferguson secured his first coaching contract with East Stirlingshire. He managed to bring an improvement in the team's results and soon moved to St. Mirren -- where he would enjoy his first major success.

Ferguson brought the struggling second division team into the top flight, where they claimed the first division title in 1977.

Aberdeen was the next challenge for Ferguson -- and it was here that he established himself as a world-class manager.Photo See top moments from Ferguson's management career »

In 1980 he claimed the Scottish league crown with Aberdeen -- the first time in 15 years it had not been won by Rangers or Celtic. Success continued, and in the 1982-83 season he remarkably took Aberdeen to European Cup Winners' Cup glory, beating Spanish giants Real Madrid 2-1 in the final.

Fact Box

December 31, 1941

Hometown: Glasgow

Managed: Manchester United, Aberdeen, St Mirren, East Stirlingshire

Titles as manager: 35 (total)

Played: Queen's Park, St Johnstone, Dunfermline Athletic, Rangers, Falkirk, Ayr United

Goals: 170

Titles as player: 2

Ferguson joined Manchester United in 1986 where, in his 23 years at the club, he has won the Premier League 10 times, the FA Cup five times, the European Champions League twice and the FIFA Club World Cup once.

Despite some low points -- particularly in late 1989, when many believed he might be sacked after a terrible start to the season -- Ferguson has managed a team which has enjoyed consistent success through a period of rapid change in football.

He has also nurtured players like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, bringing them to the top of their game.

His success has not gone unnoticed off the field either. He has won the World Soccer Magazine World Manager of the Year accolade on four occasions and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1999, following his induction as both an Officer and Commander of the Order of the British Empire.


On a personal note, he has been married to wife Cathy since 1966 and they have three sons. Darren is the current manager of English third-tier club Peterborough.

At 67, it is not certain how much longer Alex Ferguson has left in the game and has hinted in recent years that he might step down. But, as he steers his team towards potentially another Premier League title this season, there is no doubting how he will be remembered: one of the greatest football managers ever.

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