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.


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

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.


“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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