Sir Alex Ferguson believes Hampden Park’s rich history and heritage makes it a perfect choice of host city venue for UEFA’s 60th anniversary celebrations of the European Championships.
In an exclusive interview with the Scottish FA, the two-time Champions League winner and former manager of Manchester United, Aberdeen and Scotland reckons that the stadium’s proud record or major finals will stand the stadium and the city of Glasgow in good stead on Friday, when the UEFA Executive Committee make their decision on 13 host city venues for UEFA Euro 2020.
The national stadium has hosted arguably the greatest game in European competition, Real Madrid’s historic 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960, and was the scene of what is widely regarded as the greatest goal, Zinedine Zidane’s for Real against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002.
One of the greatest and most successful coaches of all time recounted his own fond memories of those magical Hampden occasions.
“Everyone who is involved in the decision making of this only has to look back at the six finals for a start, and each time the clubs who represented their countries in these particular games will have fond memories of it, whether it be Fiorentina, Atletico Madrid, Espanyol, Sevilla, St Etienne or Bayern Munich,” said Sir Alex. “All these teams who have been there will have memories in their own special way, and I think they’ll all be good ones.
“I go back as a young lad to the first final at Hampden Park between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960. I went along there thinking that Eintracht Frankfurt were gods. They beat Rangers in the semi-final 6-3 at Ibrox Park, which was unthinkable, but Real Madrid splattered them 7-3. The atmosphere was unbelievable, with 133,000 people there.”
That match 54 years ago left a profound mark on the man who was to deliver success all over the continent, first with Aberdeen in 1983 with the European Cup Winner’s Cup and secondly with Manchester United, with whom he won the UEFA Champions League in 1999 and 2008. Yet he was not the only one to be inspired by the famous “Hampden Roar” that evening.
“There was a documentary recently on (Alfredo) Di Stefano where he spoke about his five finals, and he made a special reference to the people in Glasgow and the atmosphere in the stadium. The great point he made was two players scored seven goals – he scored a hat-trick and Ferenc Puskas scored four. He makes special reference to that night. That’s a great basis for thinking about how special Hampden Park is for a final.”
The city of Glasgow is one which Ferguson, born and raised in the Govan area of the city, believes is a naturally friendly and welcoming environment.
“I’ve always felt that when I return is that there’s an eternal friendship in Glasgow. It doesn’t change. What we were talking about in 1960 remains to this very day. They have the great ability to communicate with people and make them feel welcome.”
This summer’s successful Commonwealth Games, including the sold-out athletic events at Hampden Park, demonstrates to Ferguson that Glasgow is a city that has a love not just for football, but for all sports.
“They have this fantastic affection for the game. Scotland is a football nation, no question about that.
“If anyone watched the Commonwealth Games, it was a perfect example of why Glasgow still has this wonderful atmosphere, and also the friendship. There was a great slogan attached to the Commonwealth Games that said that, ‘People Make Glasgow’ which is absolutely correct. All the athletics events at Hampden Park were absolutely outstanding, it was fantastic.”
For Sir Alex Ferguson Glasgow, with a rich football history and a capability of hosting modern, high-profile sporting spectacles, is the perfect host city for EURO 2020.
“Along with this great history of six finals and with that special occasion against Real Madrid in everyone’s mind,” Ferguson concluded, “I think that Glasgow can create that again.”
Watch the interview in full here.