Sir Alex Ferguson offered Man Utd player £100k to retire from football
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Sir Alex Ferguson offered Paul McGrath £100,000 to simply quit football, the former Manchester United defender has now revealed.
McGrath struggled with alcohol addiction throughout his career and Ferguson, in an effort to stamp out the drinking culture at Old Trafford in the late 1980s, was willing to pay the Republic of Ireland international off to leave the club and retire on the spot.
McGrath, who was only 29 at the time, turned down the offer as he felt he had more to give as a player. Although he did leave United and went on to be a huge success at his next club, Aston Villa, earning the nickname 'God'.
It was extreme measures from Ferguson, but McGrath in an interview with The Telegraph, admitted he and other players had been 'acting up' – much to Ferguson's annoyance.
He said: "Sir Alex got me into the room and just said 'we’d like you to stop playing football.
"Simple as that. And he said they were willing to give me £100,000 to quit playing football altogether and just go back to Ireland.
"I was thinking about it because £100,000 back then was quite a lot of money. But I spoke to [teammates] Kevin Moran and Bryan Robson, and I just said I wanted to play on because I thought I could still do something in football.
"So Gordon Taylor, who was at the PFA, went into Sir Alex and said ‘Paul’s playing on, you can fine him, you can do what you want but he’s going to play football – here or somewhere else’."
McGrath then got the call from former England boss Graham Taylor to join him at Villa that same summer, in 1989, where he made more than 250 league appearances, staying until 1996 before finally retiring in 1998 after spells at Derby and Sheffield United.
“It wasn’t a shock really because we were acting up a bit back then," he said on leaving United.
"We had a bit of fun but we overdid it, so then he just wanted me out of the club. Then Bryan Robson was having a barbeque at his house and suddenly Graham Taylor was on the phone saying ‘can you come up to Aston Villa’ and I jumped at the chance. I thought ‘Jesus, I can play there every week’.”
Villa pushed United close for the Premier League title in 1992/93 – and McGrath regrets not putting in more effort in an effort to nick it off his former boss Fergie.
“If I had taken it a little more seriously on certain occasions then we might have actually won a title," he said. "So I’ve always got that thing in the back of my mind that I should have behaved a little better sometimes.”
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Topics: Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, Football