Who was your sporting hero growing up?
My hero was Denis Law; as a player I loved Denis Law even though he is only a couple of years older than me. He epitomised to me everything about a Scotsman. He could start a row in an empty house, fight his own shadow, unbelievable courage, electric pace, exciting and dynamic to watch – I always loved Denis as a player. Also as I was growing up there were a couple of Rangers players like Willy Woodburn and Willy Waddell, who were great Rangers players of the time. As I got older and got more involved in football Dennis Law was a great Scottish player.
Who is the most talented player you’ve ever worked with?
Well there are so many at the club, even during my Aberdeen days there were some very talented players. United has been very lucky with a 25year spell; Norman Whiteside was a fantastic talent, Cantona, Ronaldo, Giggs, Rooney, Scholes and having Beckham. There is an incredible array of talent and I always try to make this point. I always think that it is always forwards, who can entertain and win games, and although we have had fantastic defenders, for me, they don’t come in the same category when you are talking about great players, because I think about the players that have entertained and have great courage to play the game and I think that is the deciding factor.
Are there any of those or maybe other players you could pick out as being the best player in the 20 years of the Premier League?
I think we have a few in that category without question because our success is unequalled in the Barclays Premier League. There is no club that has created the success we have. So when people say who are the best players in the Premier League?… they have to come from Manchester United without question as far as I am concerned.
Outside of football who is the person you admire the most and why?
There are a few iconic names that come into it. I met Nelson Mandela and listened to one of his speeches many years ago and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up, it was fantastic. I think without doubt he was a great man of his time without question.
In terms of sport the greatest sportsman as far as I am concerned is Muhammad Ali. I think his stance against going to war maybe elevated him to that status but as far as a boxer he was phenomenal. I remember every time he had a fight I would get up early morning and go to the cinema in Glasgow or Aberdeen to watch his fights at three or four in the morning. He was such an attraction in that respect. I had the pleasure of meeting him once but by that time he had Parkinson’s and it was a struggle for him to even talk, but he is in terms of sport and Mandela in terms of his status in life and what he meant to the world was very important.
Also JFK, I look at JFK and his period as President of America. There is a lot of criticism about him of course as you understand it because everyone gets that kind of criticism, but he had to deal with five issues that no other President of America had to deal with. He had to deal with the Cuban crisis, he had the cold war at the time and Vietnam, the race issue in the south, the Medicare which has always been a big problem in America. He had those five important issues during the time of his presidency which only lasted three years. He must have been an incredible charismatic figure to be around at that time.
In terms of my own personal Scottish connections Jimmy Reid in Glasgow. I think what he meant to social justice and his time as a human being was phenomenal. His speech as the rector of Glasgow University was printed in full in the New York Times, and regarded as one of the greatest speeches of all time. He had a big impact on the people in my area in Glasgow, Govan, where he meant a lot to the workers who he stood up for.
Who would be your dream dinner party guests?
I would definitely have to start getting a few Hollywood actresses in there for Gods sake! (laughs)There is a few isn’t there. I think that Marilyn Monroe would be great company. I love the new movies and great actors. Spencer Tracy was a great actor or Gregory Peck, all the older actors of my time as I grew up as a youth. I loved those kinds of actors. Susan Hayward was a great favourite of mine, but if you are talking about sitting down at a dinner table then if you could get Mandela, Muhammad Ali, JFK Kennedy, maybe Sinatra just to add a bit of spice to it you would have a fantastic table. Jimmy Reid just to cause trouble… it would be a great table.
What food would you serve?
It would have to be Pasta; Sinatra wouldn’t sit down unless it was a pasta; pasta and fish.
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