The teenager who knocked on Fergie’s door and asked for Man Utd trial


Sir Alex Ferguson is arguably the greatest manager to have graced the sport of football.

The Scotsman turned Aberdeen into Scotland’s best team and a European powerhouse in the 1980s, before moving south of the border to Manchester United.

After initially struggling at Old Trafford, Fergie worked his magic and dominated English football for well over a decade.

He retired in 2013 with 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and a plethora of other trophies to his name.

Part of the reason behind Fergie’s unrepeatable success was his no-nonsense approach to management, an approach that saw him clash with numerous high-profile players – including David Beckham and Roy Keane.

But he was also a man who rewarded those who showed courage and if you don’t believe that, just ask Max Lonsdale.

Now, that’s a name most football fans will not recognize, which is certainly understandable.

Sir Alex Ferguson with the Premier League trophy
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MAY 12: Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with the Premier League trophy following the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on May 12, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Lonsdale never made it big in the sport, but he did once have a trial at United and the way in which it came about is quite extraordinary.

After being released by Macclesfield, an 18-year-old Lonsdale was determined to follow his dream of playing for a top club, namely Manchester United.

So what did he do? Oh nothing much, he just turned up at Fergie’s door and asked for a trial, no biggie.

Lonsdale recounted the brilliant story in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail back in 2011.

Lisandro Martinez to Man Utd? (Football Terrace)

Lonsdale knocked on Fergie’s door and asked for a Man Utd trial

“I knew I could play at a higher level and I couldn’t stop thinking about United,” Lonsdale said. “I posted DVDs to other clubs but got nowhere, so I just thought, ‘Right, I’m going to do it differently with United. I’m going straight to Sir Alex’.”

Lonsdale lived near Fergie, but when he first turned up to the house, the Scotsman wasn’t home, so he handed a CV and a highlights DVD to his wife, Cathy.

Cathy, who was impressed by the teenager, told him to come back the next day, which he did.

“I think he was expecting me because the gates just opened without a word from inside,” Lonsdale continued. “As soon as I started to walk down the drive, the front door opened and there was Sir Alex.

Video: Lonsdale’s highlights DVD that he gave to Fergie

“I’ll never forget that moment. He just stood there, in front of the step, with his hands on his hips, watching me.

“I think he was a bit skeptical at first, but once he realized I was genuine and deadly serious about wanting to play for United, he was great.

“He took me round to the patio and we sat there and chatted for about 15 minutes. To be honest, it’s difficult recalling exactly how the conversation went because I had all these things I wanted to say to him, but they all came out wrong.

“It all sounded great when I practiced it, but face-to-face nerves got the better of me. It didn’t come out right at all. It was all a bit daunting, but, equally, I knew he always had time for young players and liked people showing some guts.

“Sure enough, one of the first things he said was, ‘You’ve got tremendous courage coming here like this. I respect that’.

“I told him I really believed I could play at the highest level and he asked me about my style of play, how old I was and whether I had any history of injuries.

“I said I was a left-footed midfield player who liked being on the ball, passing it around and taking people on.

“It was clear he was a bit taken back by the whole thing. You could just tell from his facial expression no one had ever knocked on his door before and asked for a chance but, to be fair, he took a genuine interest and said he would look at the DVD.”

Sir Alex Ferguson on the touchline
MOSCOW – MAY 21: Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager directs his players during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Manchester United and Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium on May 21, 2008 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

What a story. Lonsdale got his wish and was invited to United’s Carrington training base, where he had a four-week trial alongside the likes of Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck.

Sadly, the Red Devils were unable to offer him a contract, although it’s an experience the lad will never, ever forget.

“[Sir Alex] was one of the last people I saw on my final day at Carrington,” he added. “I was in the area where the players had lunch and he made a point of coming over to shake hands and wish me all the best.

“He also said I’d always be welcome to go back and train with them and that the door would never be closed.”

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