His pupils have included the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs among others.
The famous United youth coach who oversaw the development of the legendary class of ’92 United stalwarts passed away on Thursday. Manchester United officially confirmed his death in an official statement. “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.”
Eric Harrison was a former footballer and played on the wings for Halifax and Hartlepool before retiring in 1972. Following his retirement, he took up coaching at Everton. He arrived at Manchester United as a youth coach in 1981, appointed by then manager Ron Atkinson.
It was after Sir Alex entered the scene that Manchester United’s scouting and youth departments were revamped and Eric Harrison took charge of the group of players that would later come to be known as ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’.
This included legends of the game like Paul Scholes , David Beckham, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs who would form the United and England core for years to come and were responsible for the treble in 1999 and the glorious reign of Sir Alex Ferguson in England.
Speaking of Eric Harrison in 2017, 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.” Harrison was awarded an MBE for his services to the sport.
Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute to Eric Harrison:
“Eric’s contribution to football and not just at Manchester United was incredible. When I came as manager I was lucky enough to have Eric on the staff as head of youth development.” pic.twitter.com/sGBzRxMmtO
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 14, 2019
Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to his long-time friend and work partner
“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,” Sir Alex said.
The class of ’92 also took to Twitter to express their grief and admiration alike for the great man that helped shaped their careers. 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.”
View this post on Instagram
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. He was always watching and always with us everytime we played, I can still hear him telling me NO MORE HOLLYWOOD PASSES. 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. Eric we love you and owe you everything. ❤ Gary, Phil, Ryan, Paul, Nicky and David.
Eric Harrison spent 17 years with the United youth side and will definitely be remembered forever for his contribution in some of the most glorious years that Manchester United has ever seen.