Sir Alex Ferguson: Primary school teacher was an inspiration to me

Football legend Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the most celebrated figures in the game – but he has never forgotten the primary school teacher who helped to shape his attitudes.

Fergie, who won 38 trophies with Manchester United and 11 at Aberdeen,  was taught by Elizabeth Thomson at a primary school in Govan, Glasgow.

He said: “She was a fierce woman with an incredible drive and she commanded the utmost respect from students.”

He added: “When I think about her now, I realise that it wasn’t all about education. Mrs Thomson endeavoured to make you want to be the best you could be.

“She got you performing, you know? Yes, I think there’s part of me that comes from her. That determination and that sense of drive. That ‘never give in’ attitude she had about all her students.”

Sir Alex paid tribute to the Broomloan Primary School teacher in an interview with The Times Educational Supplement.

He told how Mrs Thomson was a strict teacher who – as was typical in those days – would use corporal punishment to keep her students in line. When she died, she bequeathed the belt she used on pupils’ hands to Ferguson, with a letter that said: “You’ll know more about this than anyone.”

Sir Alex added: “She took an interest in the kids, though. If she was worried that they weren’t eating much at home, she’d sure as hell make sure that they ate well at school.

“Teaching is a vocation, isn’t it? That’s what teachers are born to do. And they take it on as a quest to be the very best.

“Elizabeth was from a good class of family and she came to Govan. Maybe 2000 teachers turned the job down, turned down that sort of challenge, but she thrived on it. She improved everyone she touched. She actively sought out challenge.

“The three ingredients to Elizabeth, when I think about it, were personality, determination and energy. Anyone who’s in charge of someone else needs those three ingredients. It just won’t work without them.”

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