There are many terrific tales about Sir Alex Ferguson and his glittering career as the manager of Manchester United.
Everyone is familiar about the boot incident with David Beckham in 2003. Fergie wouldn’t shout at Portuguese winger Nani and he once missed a Man United match in order to watch David de Gea in action.
The stories are endless.
Fergie had many memorable clashes with his players but he would always reward those with courage and determination.
“I always admire the courage to do right,” he once said.
That’s why he was ready to hand an opportunity to an 18-year-old called Max Lonsdale.
You may or may not have heard of Lonsdale before but his story is an interesting one.
Being released by Macclesfield might convince some to seek a career away from football. But not Lonsdale; he wanted to turn the setback into a dream move to Manchester United.
Lonsdale recounted the story in an interview with the Daily Mail in 2011.
“I knew I could play at a higher level and I couldn't stop thinking about United,” Lonsdale said. “I posted DVDs to other clubs but got nowhere, so I just thought, ‘Right, I'm going to do it differently with United. I'm going straight to Sir Alex’.
Lonsdale lived close to Ferguson and knocked on his door - but the United boss wasn’t home.
Lonsdale met Ferguson the following day
Ferguson’s wife, impressed after Lonsdale handed her a CV and a highlights DVD, told the player to come back the next day.
He did so, and went on to describe the experience.
“I think he was expecting me because the gates just opened without a word from inside,” Lonsdale continued. “As I began to walk down the drive, the front door opened and there was Sir Alex.
“I’ll never forget that moment. He just stood there, in front of the step, with his hands on his hips, watching me.
“I think he was a bit sceptical at first, but once he realised I was genuine and deadly serious about wanting to play for United, he was great.
“He took me round to the patio and we sat there and chatted for about 15 minutes. To be honest, it's difficult recalling exactly how the conversation went because I had all these things I wanted to say to him, but they all came out wrong.
“It all sounded great when I practised it but face-to-face nerves got the better of me. It didn't come out right at all. It was all a bit daunting, but, equally, I knew he always had time for young players and liked people showing some guts.
“Sure enough, one of the first things he said was, ‘You've got tremendous courage coming here like this. I respect that’.
“I told him I really believed I could play at the highest level and he asked me about my style of play, how old I was and whether I had any history of injuries.
“I said I was a left-footed midfield player who liked being on the ball, passing it around and taking people on.
“It was clear he was a bit taken aback by the whole thing. You could just tell from his facial expression no-one had ever knocked on his door before and asked for a chance but, to be fair, he took a genuine interest and said he would look at the dvd.”
Lonsdale was invited to United’s Carrington training base and would train alongside Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck during a trial that lasted more than four weeks.
The Red Devils, however, were unable to offer the player a contract.
"[Sir Alex] was one of the last people I saw on my final day at Carrington,” he added. “I was in the area where the players have lunch and he made a point of coming over to shake hands and wish me all the best.
“He also said I'd always be welcome to go back and train with them and that the door would never be closed.”
It’s an experience that Lonsdale will never forget.
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