Sir Alex Ferguson creates surprising Euros playlist in aid of dementia charity

Sir Alex Ferguson has created his own Desert Island Discs-style playlist inspired by the Euros to support a dementia charity.

The Manchester United legend, 82, chose several songs from the post-war era that have associations with his youth spent in Govan, Glasgow.

Born in 1941, the football manager, known at Old Trafford as “the Boss”, selected the list of songs as part of a project by Playlist for Life, a charity that supports families living with dementia.

Research found the benefits of creating a personal playlist included reduced anxiety, improved interpersonal connections and even reducing the need for medication by as much as 80 per cent.

Ferguson is the UK’s most successful football manager, having won 13 Premier League titles with Manchester United. His playlist included “Moon River”, from the film Breakfast At Tiffany’s, released in 1961.

He said: “This is the song that when I’m with my longest and dearest friends from Govan, I always sing. Only they would have the patience to listen to me.”

He also recalled performing the 1951 hit “It’s All In The Game”, by Nat King Cole, at a Christmas party held by Queen’s Park FC, as a 17-year-old.

Alex Ferguson has created his own playlist inspired by the Euros to support a dementia charity (Getty Images)
Alex Ferguson has created his own playlist inspired by the Euros to support a dementia charity (Getty Images)

Ferguson said: “This song has a particularly strong memory. When I was 17 and playing for Queen’s Park, they used to have an annual snooker competition, which I won. But when I went to receive the prize at the annual Christmas dance, they wouldn’t give me it unless I sang. And this was the song I sang.”

Also on his list is “Dirty Old Town” by The Pogues, which was written by folk singer Ewan MacColl – a Manchester Communist who was the father of Kirsty MacColl, and the brother-in-law of American folk legend Pete Seeger.

Ferguson got involved with the project to coincide with the Euros, and said it was “enjoyable and at times emotional” to take part.

The football legend also chose the theme song to the 1939 film Gone With The Wind because of its associations with a holiday with his late wife, Cathy, and “The Way We Were”, by Gladys Knight and The Pips, from 1974.

Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ (Rex)
Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ (Rex)

Ferguson said: “Music has soundtracked many important moments in my life and I’m pleased to support the charitable work of Playlist for Life, who use music to support people affected by dementia.

“It was enjoyable and at times emotional to look back on the music of my life, and I’ve been told about the many benefits music from the past can have for those affected by dementia.”

He selected the ballad “Danny Boy” for the playlist, describing it as “one of the most sung songs in the world”. “There is a host of famous singers who have sung it and of course there are many different perspectives on the meaning of the song,” Ferguson said.

“One quite sad version is of a father taking his son to catch a train as he was heading off for war and his father was so worried for him that he forgot to give him a hug. The son never returned.”

‘It’s All in the Game’ singer Nat King Cole (Getty Images)
‘It’s All in the Game’ singer Nat King Cole (Getty Images)

Michael Timmons, executive director of Playlist for Life, said: “Football can form many special moments and memories in your life, and the Euros is a great excuse to reminisce with friends and family about these moments, even if, like Sir Alex, you’re from Scotland.

“Now is a great time to think about songs that have soundtracked your life whether it be the songs sung in the terraces or other songs that remind you of special people and times in your life.

“Sir Alex Ferguson helped create many of these special memories and to have his support is a tremendous privilege. His support has helped us improve the lives of countless families affected by dementia.

“By sharing songs from his personal playlist, he has demonstrated the ease of getting started on creating your own – something that can bring joy now but provide a lifeline in the future.

“We hope this encourages everyone to get started today.”