Man United stars ‘used to sneak off’ as SAF ‘didn’t like’ hobby

Matt Stead
Manchester United players celebrate

Alex Ferguson tried to stop his Manchester United squad playing golf for fear of them picking up injuries.

Despite indulging in a spot of golf himself, Ferguson tried to prevent his players from doing so to no avail.

Lee Sharpe claims players “used to sneak off and play golf” as Ferguson attempted to clamp down on it.

“Alex Ferguson didn’t like us playing golf because he thought it sapped the energy out of your legs and it could damage your back by causing twists and pulls,” Sharpe told The Athletic.

“Fergie just wanted us to get home, put on the telly and sit on the couch, but when you’re 17 to 20 years old, that’s quite a difficult thing to ask, so we used to sneak off and play golf.

“I played with Gary Pallister a lot. Paul Ince and Mark Hughes played quite a lot. Peter Schmeichel plays now. Yorkey is down to playing off scratch. Giggsy, Scholesy, David May, Michael Carrick, they’ve all played.

“Keaney doesn’t play. I think he’s got enough frustration in his life without golf. If he wasn’t able to hit it, I’d be worried he might be lashing clubs everywhere.”

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Sharpe sympathised with managers such as Ferguson who would rather players stayed away from the golf courses.

“The game (football) is so fast now, I can understand why managers don’t like their players going out to play golf,” he said.

“It’s four hours, a lot of concentration and a lot of walking, so it can sap your energy.”

Sharpe, who spent eight years at Manchester United and left in 1996 before retiring in his early 30s, once stated that he had fallen out of love with football. The 49-year-old is still yet to renew that affection.

“I was sick of all the politics,” he said.

“I still follow it. It’s a different game from when I was playing. You don’t get tackles. People are going down with the brush of a fingernail.

“I’m not keen on the VAR thing, either, but if you get a good game, you still can’t beat it as a spectator sport.”

Sir Alex Ferguson after teeing off