Ryan Giggs scrap, Fergie projectile among seven obscure tales from Man Utd Treble triumph

Ryan Baldi
Man Utd Treble collage
Man Utd Treble collage

Twenty-five years ago this week, Manchester United secured their historic Treble by beating Bayern Munich 2-1 in the Champions League final.

That dramatic evening in Barcelona’s Camp Nou and the events that surround United’s 1998/99 season have been retold and relived many times through books, television shows, magazine features, podcasts and several documentaries.

But there are still many tales from the Red Devils’ Treble campaign that, until recently, remained untold.

Based around more than 200 exclusive interviews with key players, staff, executives and opponents, They Always Score: The Unforgettable, Improbable, Iconic Story of Manchester United’s Treble Winners dives deeper into the season of Sir Alex Ferguson’s crowning glory than ever before.

Here are seven stories from United’s 1999 Treble triumph you might not have heard, taken from They Always Score…


Arsenal’s Lee Dixon and Tony Adams visit the United dressing room after the gripping FA Cup semi-final replay at Villa Park in April 1999.
“When Giggsy’s goal went in, it was like, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t take any more,'” Dixon says. “I was quite happy when the final whistle went – it’s done; nothing else can happen now. It was an incredible evening. From a quality point of view, I don’t think you can beat that.

“Tony Adams and I went into the United dressing room after the game as we came off the pitch, to wish them all the best in the final. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It massively stuck in my throat, because they were all jumping up and down, popping corks. I said, ‘Tone, we’ve got to do it.’ He said, ‘Come on then.’ So we went in and just said, ‘Lads, amazing game. Good luck in the final. Hope you win.’

“We didn’t mean any of it!”


Ferguson throws a projectile at Nicky Butt as United’s traditional away-trip quiz gets typically heated in the Sitges hotel where the team are staying ahead of the Champions League final.
In one of the hotel’s function rooms on the Monday evening, the players and staff took part in a quiz. A regular fixture of United’s European away trips, Ferguson was almost as bullish about winning these general knowledge tests and he was about capturing the European Cup. When Butt unexpectedly earned a point for his team by correctly answering an art question, the midfielder had to dodge projectiles from the manager’s table.

“I think it was a bread roll,” Butt says. “He had no midfielders, so he wouldn’t have thrown a knife. We used to have a lot of quizzes. Like in training, we used to have a lot of people who really wanted to win. It inevitably always kicked off – a lot of swearing and walking out.

“I got the question right because it was basically the only bloody artist that I knew – Van Gogh. It was a guess. He called me a cheat and started throwing things at me. It all went a bit moody and he walked off. That happened every single away trip. The photographer, John Peters, used to be the quizmaster and he got abused every single time. It was good times.”

They Always Score - a book about the Man Utd Treble
They Always Score – a book about the Man Utd Treble


Sir Alex arranges for a special guest to speak to his players moments before they take to the field for the Champions League final.
After the squad had changed out of their Versace suits and into their Champions League-specific kit, Yorke and Butt played a game of keepy-uppy in the middle of the dressing room. “This is our night,” Gary Neville bellowed, aiming to fill the motivational void left by Keane’s absence. “We can do it this time,” Beckham added.

To the players’ surprise, Ferguson had organised a visit from a familiar face to further motivate his men.

“The gaffer was very shrewd,” says Dave Fevre the physio. “Before the players went out for the warm-up, he said, ‘I’ve not got a lot to say, but I think this person might have.’ And in walked Eric Cantona. Eric had been a mentor for a lot of the younger players. He went around each player and said something. I thought that was a masterstroke.”

“I used to clean Cantona’s boots at the Cliff,” says Wes Brown. “I used to see him every day. He was a legend. When you see Eric walk in, you just had so much respect for him. He just said, ‘Wes, listen, all the best.’ And that was it. You stand up, come to shake his hand and then he’s off. That’s pretty much how it works when you’ve got Cantona in your presence.”

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Having scored a stoppage-time equaliser minutes earlier, Teddy Sheringham describes feeling ‘10ft tall’ as David Beckham swings in the corner that leads to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winner against Bayern. And the England striker breaks down his thought process as his flicked header sets up the decisive goal.
“I’m feeling ten feet tall now,” Sheringham says. “I scored a lot of goals at the far post, but I always tried to get across the near post, because that’s where the goals are. A lot of the time, the goalkeeper comes out and catches the ball in the middle of the goal. It doesn’t even get to the far post. So I was told from an early age by George Graham and John Doherty, ‘Get across the near post. Make as if to go across your man and get to the near post.’ You get your headers, you get your tap-ins, you get it coming off your chest, off your thighs. You get goals.’

“I’m thinking, ‘Just put it into an area where you know I like it, Becks, and I’ll make as if to go to the far post and then cut across to the near post. Just put it in there. Come on, put it in there and I’ll jump ten feet tall. You know where I want it.’

“He put it exactly where I wanted it.”

Sheringham rose to meet Beckham’s curling corner kick at the near post. He’d intended to head for goal but quickly realised he’d jumped too early. Rather than risk heading the ball harmlessly over the bar, he improvised. “I just flicked the ball into the far post area and hoped someone was there,” he says.


A lifelong bond is born in the bowels of the Camp Nou, as Ferguson and beaten Bayern boss Ottmar Hitzfeld share a moment.
Behind the door to the Bayern dressing room, the scene was in stark contrast to the United players’ joy and jubilation. The German side sat in silence. Kuffour stood beneath a cold shower, trying to wash away the heartache.

“For fifteen minutes,” says Markus Horwick, Bayern’s press officer, “no one said a word.”

Crushed by their unthinkable defeat, Bayern would lose in the German Cup final two-and-a-half weeks later, beaten on penalties by Werder Bremen after a 1–1 draw in Berlin.

Shortly after the Champions League final had ended, the two managers were required to complete their media obligations. As the losing coach, Hitzfeld was called first. A golf cart transported him and his press officer to a media marquee outside the stadium. His interviews finished, the Bayern boss waved away the golf buggee and decided to walk back through the Camp Nou’s catacombs.

“We saw two people approaching from the shadows in front of us,” Horwick says. “Suddenly we saw it was Alex Ferguson and his press officer going to the press conference. The Man U press officer and I hung back. Both coaches walked toward each other.

“It was like high noon in a Western movie. They got within one metre of each other then they fell into each other’s arms.

“One didn’t know how he’d lost the final, the other didn’t know how he’d won. From this second, a very deep friendship between Ottmar and Alex was created.”


The afterparty at the Hotel Arts gets heated when Ryan Giggs scraps with the chairman’s son, while Dwight Yorke manages to score hours after the final whistle.
A DJ provided the soundtrack as the players danced and drank. The music was paused at one point so Foo-Foo Lamar, the Manchester-based drag performer, could take to the stage to entertain the crowd. The steady flow of alcohol fuelled a scuffle when James Edwards, the chairman’s son, made an off-colour remark for which Giggs’s mum, Lynne, sharply rebuked him. When the dispute escalated, Giggs flew in, fists swinging, and scrapped on the floor with Edwards Jnr.

Once order was restored, the celebrations continued. Despite a scheduled 9 a.m. departure for the airport, the players partied into the small hours.

Yorke never made it to bed – not to sleep, at least. The striker had begged Jordi Cruyff, United’s former Barcelona player who’d spent the second half of the season on loan in Spain with Celta Vigo, to take him around the city’s nightspots. The pair ended up in a strip club and Yorke was seen heading back to his hotel room, companion in tow, at 7.30 a.m.


Back at the Cliff the day after parading their trio of trophies around Manchester, Steve McClaren gets a first-hand insight into Ferguson’s drive to do it all again.
The players were absent, but for some it was business as usual at the Cliff the morning after the parade.

Dave Fevre, the first-team physio, was among the earliest arrivals at the training ground. He was there to conduct Mark Bosnich’s medical ahead of the Australian goalkeeper being confirmed as Peter Schmeichel’s replacement.

Fevre also had another order of business. He had set an 8 a.m. meeting with Alex Ferguson in the manager’s office. Greeting the physio with a smile, Ferguson joked about how eager Fevre must have been to discuss the changes and improvements he wanted to make to the club’s medical department ahead of moving to the new training complex in Carrington the next season.

“Stop, stop, Gaffer,” Fevre said, before handing the manager a letter. “You need to read this.”

It was his notice. Fevre had accepted an offer from Brian Kidd to become the head physio at recently relegated Blackburn Rovers.

“Whatever they’re offering, we’ll match it,” Ferguson said.

Fevre explained that his decision had not been motivated by money. His two youngest children had just been diagnosed with type one diabetes. He lived in Blackburn and wanted to work closer to home so he could be on hand to administer their insulin injections.

Ferguson offered to move Fevre and his family to Carrington, to find the best local school for his kids and to hire a district nurse to take care of the jabs.

“No, Gaffer,” Fevre said. “My kids, my problem. I’ll be doing their injections. I’ve made a commitment to Blackburn and I’m not going to go back on it.”

Ferguson shook Fevre’s hand. “And he’s been brilliant ever since,” the physio says, including calling within hours of Kidd being sacked the following October, checking he was okay and insisting his old job was still available if he wanted it.

The meeting with Fevre was Ferguson’s second appointment that morning. His first had been with his Steve McClaren, over cups of tea and bacon sandwiches in the canteen at the Cliff.

“Right, put all the medals away,” Ferguson said as he sat down with his assistant manager, less than 36 hours after the Treble season’s dramatic conclusion.

“How are we going to do it again next season?”

They Always Score: The Unforgettable, Improbable, Iconic Story of Manchester United’s Treble Winners (Polaris, 2023) is available now.