The day Ferguson pipped City to signature of teen wonder
THE HISTORY of football is littered with tales of the one that got away. Even Sir Alex Ferguson, a man renowned for going the extra mile to land his transfer targets, has seen a few slip through his fingers. Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer and Gareth Bale are such cases.
But after being alerted to the burgeoning talents of a youthful Ryan Giggs, this was one player that Ferguson, only one year into his tenure at Old Trafford, was simply not going to let escape.
It could, of course, have all been so very different had Manchester City pursued Giggs with the same fervour as their great rivals.
And City’s failure to act swiftly is something that still irks the man who first spotted Giggs playing for his school.
Then a full-time milkman and part-time scout for City, Dennis Schofield parked up his milk float after being left flabbergasted by Giggs’s remark- able talent.
“One day I saw these lads walking out of a local school with their boots. They were about eight, nine and I asked if they were going to play a game.
“I went along to watch and saw this boy on the left wing who was like a gazelle, dynamite. He was Ryan Wilson then.
“I was thinking to myself: ‘I’m not missing out on this one’. For many years there was a photo on the wall at City of Ryan playing for them. They used to say that when he signs at 14, ‘We’ll have a big do’.”
But Ferguson, alerted to Giggs’s remarkable skills by local newsagent and steward Harold Wood who had watched him regularly while playing for Deans, was already on the case.
With Ferguson looking on from his office window at The Cliff, Giggs scored a hat-trick for Salford Boys after being offered a trial at United over the Christmas period in 1986.
Still, City were confident they would get their young man, who had been a member of their School of Excellence, to sign schoolboy forms by the time he turned 14. They hadn’t banked on Ferguson’s determination to prevent that from happening.
Having already made regular visits to Giggs’s home, Ferguson and his chief scout Joe Brown knocked on the door once more on the day of his 14th birthday, forms in hand.
Ferguson then left with the all-important signature – much to the annoyance of Schofield.
Schofield said: “I said to Ken Barnes (City’s chief scout) at the time: ‘On Ryan’s 14th birthday make sure you are in his house because United are tapping him’. But the day Ryan turned 14, Sir Alex Ferguson and Joe Brown (former United youth scout) sat in his house with a contract – our chief scout sat in his office, waiting for Ryan and his mum to come in.” – Daily Mail
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