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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 12:00 GMT
Roxburgh on friend Ferguson
By John Sinnott

Sir Alex Ferguson
Roxburgh played with Ferguson at Falkirk
Uefa technical director Andy Roxburgh has known Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson for over 35 years.

Back in the 1970s they were team-mates at Falkirk and the two met up again at the SPL Elite Coaches' Forum after Scotland's win over France in a Euro 2008 tie in October.

Roxburgh and Ferguson were joined by all 12 SPL managers as well as prominent Scottish bosses working in England - David Moyes, George Burley and Billy Davies - at a get-together at Gleneagles.

Scotland manager Walter Smith, and the former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, now in charge of Lyon, were also there.

As Ferguson celebrates 20 years as Manchester United manager, Roxburgh tells BBC Sport why his fellow Scot has been so successful.

WINNING MENTALITY

I played alongside him Falkirk. He had that mentality to be a winner as a player and nothing has changed.

From an early age he decided he wanted to learn as much as he could about football and stay in the game as long as possible.

He had the highest coaching licence in Scotland before he even stopped playing.

He had the desire and commitment to be trained and then to continue to educate himself.

When he was at the SPL meeting in October he told me how stimulating he had found it and the importance of never wanting to stop learning.

He has that open-mindedness to constantly develop and change.

He has continually succeeded in re-inventing himself. The trick is to do it every day - in other words to grow - and he continues to do that.

ENTHUSIASM

I will never forget going to see him at St Mirren in his early days as a manager.

It was a Monday evening. A terrible, typical Glasgow evening in the middle of winter. It was pouring with rain and there were all these 14-year-olds on the main pitch and in the middle of them was Alex.

I was astonished that the club's manager was doing this with the club's youth players.

DECISION MAKING

He is one of these people who has an almost photographic memory.

When he watches a football match he sees the pictures and retains it and that gives him a brilliant image to read the game.

He is also brave in making decisions to win games.

The 1999 European Cup final is the obvious example, but how many times has he made the right decision to win the game in his use of substitutions.

He has that inner strength to make the tough decision and deliver the result.

WISDOM

I work with all the national coaches in Europe as well as the top club coaches.

The really top guys exude wisdom. They say things that can be incredibly profound. Alex is like that, so is Marcello Lippi and Arsene Wenger.

Alex has just got a tremendous football brain.

HUMILITY

Alex is incredibly generous with his time.

Top people would never say how good they are - they know they can handle the job.

He has never forgotten his roots.

I remember he asked me to attend a charity dinner in Glasgow for the team he had played for as teenager.

The club was going bankrupt, but he organised a dinner and the money went to save this club.

There was no publicity - he just did it.

LEADER

Alex is the honorary leader of Uefa's coaches and nobody would quibble about that.

His track record speaks for itself. He speaks so wisely about coaching and development.

He has constantly tried to build new teams. He builds again and then he rebuilds.


SEE ALSO
How Robins saved Ferguson's job
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
Ferguson's human side revealed
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
Sir Bobby Charlton on Ferguson
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
Ferguson's career in photos
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
Gary Pallister on Ferguson
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd


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