From Alf Ramsey and Bobby Robson to Geoff Hurst and Kenny Dalglish, several British football icons became Sirs thanks to their work both inside and outside of the game. Sir Alex Ferguson is another notable football figure to receive a knighthood, but what exactly did he do to earn the great honour?
Alex Ferguson became a Sir as a reward for guiding Manchester United to the treble in the 1998-99 season. Only seven football managers and players had previously received a knighthood.
United’s first trophy that season came on May 16, 1999, when a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur clinched the Premier League title. On May 22, 1999, the Red Devils completed the league and cup double by beating Newcastle United 2-0 to win the FA Cup. Then, on May 26, 1999, Ferguson’s men dramatically beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the Champions League final.
When was Sir Alex Ferguson knighted?
Many entertainers and sportspeople have to wait until their careers are over to receive a knighthood. That was not the case for Sir Alex Ferguson, however, as his honour came less than a month on from Manchester United’s treble success.
On June 12, 1999, The Queen named Sir Alex Ferguson in her Birthday Honours List for his services to football. Legendary broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald was the other standout name in that year’s list.
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The following football managers and players earned knighthoods before Sir Alex Ferguson: Sir Alf Ramsey, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst, Sir Matt Busby, Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Tom Finney and Sir Walter Winterbottom. Former FA chairman Sir Charles Clegg also received the honour, but the citation on his knighthood did not mention football.
Who knighted Sir Alex Ferguson?
Queen Elizabeth II knighted Sir Alex Ferguson at Buckingham Palace on June 20, 1999. He was 57 years old when he received the Knight Bachelor honour.
“The Queen told me she doesn’t think it [the treble] will ever be achieved again – and she’s right,” Sir Alex said. “The culmination of three trophies was the pinnacle of my career and it has been rewarded with a knighthood.”
As it turned out, The Queen’s prediction was wrong. In 2023, Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola became the first boss since Sir Alex to lead his side to the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in the same season.
Aberdeen and Manchester United tributes
On November 5, 2011, Manchester United renamed the North Stand at Old Trafford the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand to celebrate his 25 years at the club. The announcement came as a surprise to Sir Alex, who only found out about the news shortly before a 1-0 win for United over Sunderland.
The Red Devils also honoured the legendary boss with a bronze statue outside Old Trafford. The club unveiled the sculpture on November 23, 2012, six months before the Scot stepped down as manager.
United are not the only club to recognise the 13-time Premier League winner’s achievements. Another one of his former clubs, Aberdeen, unveiled their own bronze statue of Sir Alex outside Pittodrie Stadium on February 25, 2022.