February 14, 2019
• United pay tribute to ‘mentor of young players’
• Harrison helped produce Fergie’s Fledglings
Eric Harrison, Manchester United’s Class of 92 coach, dies aged 81
Eric Harrison, the coach credited with producing Manchester United’s famous Class of 92 youth side, has died at the age of 81.
News of his death was confirmed on Thursday by United, where Harrison spent 17 years as a youth team coach after moving from Everton in 1981.
“Manchester United is extremely saddened to report that our former youth coach Eric Harrison passed away on Wednesday,” the club said. “Eric served United with distinction as a mentor of young players, including a number of prodigies who achieved great success with club and country after graduating to the first team at Old Trafford.”
Harrison, who played as a wing-half for Halifax and Hartlepool before turning to coaching on his retirement in 1972, was responsible for producing the group of players who were originally known as “Fergie’s Fledglings”, including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, who went on to play for the first team under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Neville wrote on Twitter: “We’ve lost our mentor, our coach and the man who made us. He taught us how to play, how to never give up, how important it was to win your individual battles and what we needed to do to play for Manchester United Football Club. Eric we owe you everything.”
In 2017, when Harrison was awarded an MBE for his services to football, Ferguson said: “If you wanted a teacher who would give you the right way forward, the right path, Eric was that man. He was fantastic in his time at United. When I came in as manager, I decided to keep him on the coaching staff. As I got to know him and the work he was doing, I realised it was a great decision.”
In a statement released on Thursday, Ferguson paid tribute to his long-serving member of staff. “Eric’s contribution to football and not just at Manchester United was incredible,” he said. “When I came as manager I was lucky enough to have Eric on the staff as head of youth development, so I got to see the work he did and not just with the Class of 92 but with all the young players.
“He built character and determination in those young players and prepared them for the future. He was a teacher, he gave these players a path, a choice and he only did that through his own hard work and sacrifice.
“He was able to impart that education to the young which made him one of the greatest coaches of our time. On a personal level Eric had a wicked, dry sense of humour and was straight-talking and I admired that in him.”
Eric Harrison, Manchester United’s Class of 92 coach, dies aged 81
Beckham paid tribute to Harrison. “He was always watching and always with us every time we played, I can still hear him telling me NO MORE HOLLYWOOD PASSES,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I can still see him as we played on The Cliff training ground looking down on us either with a proud smile or a loud bang of his fist on the window knowing any minute he would be on his way down to probably advise me in the most polite way to stop playing those passes.
“More importantly he made us understand how to work hard and respect each other and not just on the pitch. We won’t forget the life lessons he gave us.”
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