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Sir Alex Ferguson Came Close To Managing Team GB At London 2012 Before Dramatic U-Turn

Rory O'Callaghan

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Sir Alex Ferguson Came Close To Managing Team GB At London 2012 Before Dramatic U-Turn

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Sir Alex Ferguson came close to managing Team GB's men's football team at the London Olympics in 2012, according to Lord Sebastian Coe.

It is 10 years to the day since the London 2012 kicked off with Danny Boyle's memorable opening ceremony at the London Stadium, formerly known as the Olympic Stadium.

Great Britain had not competed in football at the Olympics since 1974 but a decision was made to reform a team for the home Games.

Sir Alex Ferguson came close to managing Team GB at London 2012 (Image: Alamy)
Sir Alex Ferguson came close to managing Team GB at London 2012 (Image: Alamy)

After initial opposition from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs, a compromise was eventually reached for Team GB to enter a team which, would end up being comprised of only players from England and Wales.

Coe, who was the head of the 2012 organising committee, says he tried to convince Manchester United icon Ferguson to manage the team.

"We got very close. I came up with the idea because we were having a bit of fragility around our Celtic cousins. It suddenly occurred to me the one unifying influence in all that would be having a not necessarily English coach," Coe told the Daily Mail.

"I didn't speak to a soul about it but I rang up Bob Charlton and said, 'Am I out to lunch here?' He said, 'No, I'll tell Alex to give you a call'.

Team GB competed in football at the Olympics for the first time since 1974 (Image: Alamy)
Team GB competed in football at the Olympics for the first time since 1974 (Image: Alamy)

"Weeks went by. I was in a Tesco in Cobham on a Friday night and I got a call. It was a no ID and I was at the butter and fats counter and 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 took him through the idea and he said, 'Well, I don’t know'. Then there was a gap and he went, 'Oh Jesus, I'm already picking the team in my head'.

"I later went to the BBC review of the year and Alex was there. Alex looked at me and said the answer's yes. I said fine."

Stuart Pearce was instead appointed Team GB's men's coach (Image: Alamy)
Stuart Pearce was instead appointed Team GB's men's coach (Image: Alamy)

In the end, Ferguson never took on the role and would instead focus on his final season at United, guiding the Red Devils to the Premier League title before announcing his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.

It appears that resistance from Manchester United, the Football Association and British Olympic Association prevented Ferguson taking on the role, with former Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce appointed instead.

He could only guide the team to the quarter-finals, where they were beaten by South Korea on penalties after a 1-1 draw, and Coe admits failing to appoint Ferguson remains one of his biggest regrets of the Games.

Lord Sebastian Coe says he regrets not being able to appoint Ferguson (Image: Alamy)
Lord Sebastian Coe says he regrets not being able to appoint Ferguson (Image: Alamy)

"We got pretty close to it. I've always laughed with Alex afterwards," he added.

"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."

Topics: Manchester United, Football, Olympics, Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson

Rory O'Callaghan
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