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Old 15th November 2008, 11:54   #1
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Default Sir Alex Ferguson almost made Canada his goal

Sir Alex Ferguson almost made Canada his goal
Oliver Kay The Times
November 15, 2008

As Sir Alex Ferguson talked of today's 50th anniversary of his entry into senior football as a 16-year-old centre forward playing for Queen's Park in the Scottish League second division, he remarked on how quickly the time had passed.

He also dared to wonder how different things might have been had he carried through a plan to move to Canada after reaching an impasse as a young striker at St Johnstone.

It is a little-known story, touched upon only briefly in his autobiography, but Ferguson maintains that he was deadly serious about emigrating - and turning his back on football - having been tempted by the prospect of a higher wage for toolmaking, the trade in which he served his apprenticeship while playing for St Johnstone and, earlier, Queen's Park.

“At that time toolmaking was a great trade in Canada and it was well paid,” Ferguson said yesterday. “I was at St Johnstone at the time. It was a great opportunity, but then things change and that is fate.”

In his autobiography, referring to a series of heavy defeats in St Johnstone's reserve team, Ferguson wrote: “Those were results to harden the depressing conclusion that my football career was grinding to a halt. It was about then that I began to contemplate emigration to Canada. Privately, as I surveyed my lack of progress in the game, I had to admit that I was by no means blameless. If you want to make it as a player, you have to be fully committed and willing to make sacrifices. In both respects I was coming up short. I wasn't in love with toolmaking, but having to serve my apprenticeship meant I couldn't really get my teeth into football, which I did love.

“My attitudes were in a mess and the notion of crossing the Atlantic grew increasingly attractive. Toolmakers were in demand in Canada and I knew quite a few who had gone there and were earning far more than they had in Scotland. Of course what I was really doing in that winter of 1963 was looking for an easy way out of my troubles.”

Manchester United's supporters can only begin to wonder how different life might have been had Ferguson been lost to British football, but yesterday his rival managers queued up to pay tributes to his achievements. “Sir Alex's contribution to football, not only in England but in the world, is huge,” Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Chelsea manager, said. “I want, in my life, to follow this man and his history. He's an inspiration.”
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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