The former Manchester United manager also revealed how part of his therapy was to recall every member of his teams. Sir Alex was famed for his dressing room rants at players such as David Beckham and Gary Neville, which became known as the “hairdryer treatment”. But he was worried about losing his powerful voice – and his memory – after undergoing emergency surgery in 2018.
Sir Alex, 79, told of his fears as a documentary about his life premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival last night.
The two-time Champions League-winning manager with the Red Devils was filmed for Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In while recovering from the operation. It was directed by his son, Jason.
Aware that his memory might desert him, the film sees Sir Alex recount the most important stories of his life.
Speaking alongside his son during a virtual question and answer session after the premiere, he said the recovery from the operation was terrifying.
Sir Alex said: “I lost my voice, just could not get a word out, and that was terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.
“And everything was going through my mind. Is my memory going to come back? Am I ever going to speak again?”
He worked through exercises with a speech therapist in which he had to recall every member of his teams, and his voice eventually came back after 10 days.
Sir Alex, who retired in 2013, won 38 trophies during a 26-year spell in charge of Manchester United.
Last night, he said his favourite memory of the team’s fans was on the day he won the league title for the first time, in 1993.
“God almighty – I couldn’t get out of the car park,” he said. “There were thousands of them… they could have made me president that day.”
Sir Alex added he most regretted having to let players go, particularly youngsters.
“That is the worst thing, having to let a young player go. Because all his ambitions and hopes and desires are about playing for Manchester United in front of 75,000 people and going to Wembley in a final – when you take that away from them it’s a sore, sore thing. So I hated that.”
The documentary also looked at his tough upbringing, about which he says: “I speak for every young boy in Govan and Glasgow that growing up, the only thing you had was football – football every day. There was nothing else in my life.”
He recalls how, as a young man, he organised strikes of apprentice workers to win better wages.
He said: “There are moments in your life when you say, I did something really worthwhile.”