hit tracker I was the first player Sir Alex Ferguson signed for Man Utd – now I’m making my own way in totally new career – Newsmix.pics

I was the first player Sir Alex Ferguson signed for Man Utd – now I’m making my own way in totally new career

ALAN TONGE is making his own way in a brand new career after life at Manchester United.

Tonge, 52, was the FIRST ever player signed by Sir Alex Ferguson, joining United as a 14-year-old in 1987.

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Alan Tonge was the first-ever player signed for Man Utd by Sir Alex Ferguson[/caption]

He was brutally axed by the veteran boss in 1991 and retired from footy three years later
Reuters

The versatile defender and midfielder progressed his way through United’s youth system before getting a professional contract in 1990.

But Tonge was heartbreakingly released by the Red Devils a year later after Fergie informed him his deal would not be renewed.

He ended up signing for Exeter City and played 27 times in three years.

However, a back injury forced Tonge to call time on his career aged just 22.

After quitting football, he earned a degree in sports science before landing a masters in philosophy and a PhD on critical times in footballers’ careers.

And 30 years later, Tonge is now a lecturer at the University Campus of Football Business.

He has even written a book detailing his journey at United, which is called From Red to Read.

Tonge said: “Writing it was a cathartic experience. Football is not just about the Premier League.

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“It is an interesting and unique world – it can be lucrative and exhilarating, but when that is all over, the difficult void to fill can be immense.

“I spoke to 212 ex-footballers for my PhD.


Tonge now works as a university lecturer after getting his PhD

“A high percentage, even if they had a mental health issue, preferred to keep it to themselves because they worried that it would count against them in regard to team selection.”

Reflecting on his United exit, Tonge continued: “Fergie told me, ‘We’re not going to renew your contract, son’.

“I was sick to the stomach and felt like I had taken a punch from a heavyweight boxer.

“I didn’t know how to act — I just remember muttering, ‘Thank you for the opportunity’.

“I felt like I’d let my family down. I’d avoid people in the village where I lived as I didn’t want to tell them I was no longer at United.

“I was discarded like an empty crisp packet after four years there.”

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