Alex McLeish has revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson was making jokes about the Scotland manager’s back-pass in the 1983 Cup Winners’ Cup Final against Real Madrid from his hospital bed in Royal Salford Hospital.
The footballing world was recently shocked to learn that the former Manchester United manager had undergone emergency suffering after suffering a brain haemorrhage in his home.
He was transferred from intensive care to an inpatient ward last week, with Mourinho noting that his family were “very positive” about the gaffer’s condition.
And McLeish, a good friend and former player under Ferguson at Aberdeen, has shed light on how the boss was making jokes about a loose pass he made during the 2-1 win over Real Madrid in 1983.
“When it was the anniversary of Gothenburg last week I texted Mark, the oldest one,” he said.
“I said: ‘Tell the gaffer happy Gothenburg day!’ He texted back and said, ‘You’ll never believe it, I’m in the hospital with him right now. He’s asking about your passback!’
“I said, ‘Typical! What about my assist for Eric Black?’”
The Daily Mail and Sun, somewhat unsurprisingly, didn’t respect the calls for privacy from Ferguson’s family surrounding his condition, taking advantage of the interest in the story in the ensuing days by claiming the boss had been asking about how his son’s team Doncaster Rovers got on against Oldham upon coming around. Other reports claimed Ferguson was joking about missing the FA Cup final and targeting a recovery in time for the Champions League final in Kiev.
This is enormously disrespectful – not just for the family but also the millions around the world genuinely concerned for the man’s condition.
So to hear it from McLeish, who has known Ferguson for decades, is a hugely uplifting piece of news – actual news. Ferguson has always been in rude health throughout his life, his spirits always alive, and to hear that this hasn’t changed despite what would have been a traumatic week is, while hardly surprising, wonderful to hear.