Sept. 24, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army men's soccer team received a visit from one of soccer's most respected coaches, Sir Alex Ferguson, on Saturday, Sept. 21. Ferguson addressed the team for about an hour at Clinton Field before taking in his first Black Knights football game. Saturday marked Ferguson's third trip to the Academy after visiting in 2010 and 2011.
Ferguson managed the Manchester United Football Club from 1986 to 2013, where he won 38 trophies including 13 titles in the United Kingdom's top-flight soccer league, the English Premier League. He also oversaw a pair of Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League titles and five Football Association (FA) Challenge Cups. To include his managerial stints at St. Mirren F.C. (1974-1978) and Aberdeen F.C. (1978-1986), Ferguson collected an English record of 49 trophies in all competitions.
"I believe this is one of the things (our players) will remember for the rest of their lives," said Army head men's soccer coach Russell Payne. "This is the most popular manager of all time, in our sport, and one of the most well-renowned managers of any sport in the world. Having a chance to spend time with the players will be something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives."
Payne and Ferguson first met in May of 2010 after Army men's soccer alum, Rich Swift, USMA '94, coordinated a visit to West Point. Ferguson made his second trip to the Academy during March of 2011, when he joined Payne and the men's soccer team for lunch at the Mess Hall.
In May 2011, Ferguson invited Payne and his coaching staff to Manchester, England, to spend a week with the Manchester United team at its Carrington training center. During the week, Payne shadowed Ferguson as he coached Manchester United's first team training sessions. Payne and his staff were also Ferguson's special guests at Manchester United's May 8 contest against Chelsea F.C. at Old Trafford soccer stadium.
During this past Saturday's visit, Ferguson was given a tour of the Academy by men's soccer captains, senior Jason Lewis and junior Winston Boldt, before addressing the team at Clinton Field. Following his meeting with the team, Ferguson watched the first half of Army's football game versus Wake Forest from the Superintendents' Loge at Michie Stadium.
Payne believes Ferguson's visits to West Point will help expand the awareness of all sports fans to the global reach of soccer and get the community further excited about the Army soccer team.
"The soccer culture here at West Point is tremendous throughout the entire corps of cadets," Payne said. "It's become the most popular youth sport in America and these cadets know who he is. Even if soccer isn't your favorite sport, people know who the champions are, and over that last two decades, there is no greater example of a champion."