In the latest talk with former Exeter City players, marketing manager Scott Palfrey caught up with Alan Tonge.
Alan played for City between 1991 and 1994 but had to retire early from football due to a spinal injury. He talked about the disappointment of that and getting his life back on track through education.
However, despite only having a short playing career, Alan's time in football is a very interesting one. His claim to fame is that he was the first of Alex Ferguson's signings at Manchester United, having been offered a scholarship at Old Trafford a couple of months into the Scottish manager's time at the club.
He was released a few of years later though and then played under a former World Cup winner in Alan Ball at Exeter City.
“I honestly didn’t know where Exeter was," said Alan. "My dad put a map together for me because I was driving a little Fiesta at the time and off I went down the M6 and the M5. However, from that time from 91 to 94 when I got moved on from Exeter, it was some of the best times of my life. I really enjoyed it down there. I met some great people and managed to try and get my career moving again and get it back on track. It was really good.”
Speaking about Alan Ball, he added: "He was very similar to Sir Alex in the fact that he hated losing and he could blow his top when he wanted to. People talk about Sir Alex and his hairdryer treatment but Bally could go ballistic as well. They both set high standards. However, I think, sometimes what Bally didn’t realise was that we had dropped down a couple of levels. We weren’t World Cup winning England players or Premier League players. I think sometimes when you look at managers and why they don’t succeed sometimes that could be one of the reasons why. Sometimes they can’t relate to the lower leagues players and they expect too much.”
Watch the full interview 👇
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