Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 18:33 UK

Ferguson's evidence on leg break

Sir Alex Ferguson arriving at the court
Ferguson described Collett's attitude as "magnificent"

Sir Alex Ferguson has told a court how a former player, seeking multi-million pound damages over a "negligent" tackle, was "A-class".

The Manchester United boss said Ben Collett had an "outstanding chance" of making the grade at Old Trafford before breaking his leg in a reserve game.

Middlesbrough FC's Gary Smith and the club have admitted liability for the career-ending tackle in May 2003.

The hearing at Manchester High Court is to decide the level of damages.

Ferguson, speaking at the first day of the hearing, said: "I thought the boy showed fantastic focus, a great attitude to work hard, and they are qualities to give any player an outstanding chance in the game.

"His attitude was magnificent. It was sad to see him come back and try so hard.

"I think we knew at that point it was a fruitless task, but he's an example to a lot of young players who get injured."

Earlier, the court heard claims that Collett, 23, could have earned more than 13,000 a week, making a total in excess of 16m, if he had played until the age of 35.

Collett, who is now studying, joined United's youth academy aged nine and was part of the club's FA Youth Cup-winning team in 2003.

The match against Middlesbrough was the then 18-year-old's first game for United's reserve team.

The tackle broke his right leg in two places.

The hearing continues.