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Eric Harrison: Who was Man Utd legend? Tributes flood in after coach dies, aged 81

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Eric Harrison: Manchester United legend has passed away, aged 81 (Pic: GETTY)

On Monday morning, sad news emerged of the death of Eric Harrison.

A club statement from Manchester United read: “We are extremely saddened to report that our former youth coach Eric Harrison passed away last night.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Eric’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time.”

Harrison was diagnosed with dementia four years ago but finally lost his battle and passed away peacefully with his family by his side.

Harrison was well known for the work he carried out at the Red Devils during the Sir Alex Ferguson era, famously coaching the ‘Class of 92’.

Harrison started his career in football as a lower-league player at Halifax, before going on to play for Hartlepool, Barrow, Southport and Scarborough, then making his move into management as youth team manager in 1981 by United manager Ron Atkinson.

But it was in 1986 when his life changed as he was appointed to United’s scouting network following Ferguson’s appointment as manager in 1986.

In 1992, Harrison guided a United side to win the FA Youth Cup with the now famous Class of 92.

The likes of Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Robbie Savage all developed their trade under Harrison’s watchful eye.

A year later, the likes of Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Keith Gillespie were introduced to the team as they went on to suffer defeat against Leeds in the final.

Eric Harrison

Eric Harrison stood alongside some of the Class of 92, featuring David Beckham and Paul Scholes (Pic: GETTY)

Eric Harrison

Eric Harrison alongside some of his former pupils in 2014 (Pic: GETTY)

Eric Harrison

Eric Harrison: David Beckham posted a touching tribute on Instagram (Pic: DAVID BECKHAM INSTAGRAM)

In 1995, Harrison would win the Youth Cup again, the team captained by Phil Neville.

Harrison spent 27 years at Old Trafford, being awarded the MBE in December 2017.

He also worked as assistant manager under Mark Hughes, another player he helped develop, during his time as Wales boss.

Gary Neville paid tribute to Harrison, tweeting: “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 Harrison

Eric Harrison: Gary Neville paid tribute to his former coach on Twitter (Pic: GARY NEVILLE TWITTER)

“Eric we owe you everything.”

While Ferguson described his former colleague as “one of the greatest coaches of our time,” adding “Eric’s contribution to football and not just at Manchester United was incredible. He built character and determination in those young players and prepared them for the future.”

“Eric’s contribution to football and not just at Man Utd 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 + prepared them for the future. He was a teacher, gave these players a path, a choice.

“He only did that through his own hard work and sacrifice. He was 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.”



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