01/08/2008 13:48, Report by Sir Alex Ferguson
Blog: Follow Ole's lead
Sir Alex explains why the United legend is a one-off in the modern game...
Ole is an inspiration to anyone hoping for a long career in football. He's dedicated himself to his profession. In the modern-day game, anyone who manages ten years or more at one club is exceptional, particularly when that one club is not from the player's own country. When the fans show their respect for Ole on Saturday, it will not just be for his goal in Barcelona. It will be for his overall contribution over a very long period of time.
I remember when Ole came to us at 23, I looked at him and thought he was 15! I told him he had potential but his first season was going to be an introduction and mostly he would be playing for the Reserves. But after two games, Jim Ryan [Reserve team coach] said I needed to put him in the first team. We made him a substitute against Blackburn the following week. He scored and was never out of the first team squad after that.
His last season when we won the title [in 2007] summed up Ole's strength of character. It was never going to be easy to come back after all those operations. But we gave him the platform and he just kept working away in that gym, believing he would come back when I don't think anyone else thought he would. But once we introduced him to the team, his impact was fantastic. He got 11 goals, which were really important for us in the end.
When a young kid walks in here, eventually I want them to go home to their mother and father and be the same person. It's not easy in modern day life. Success and money can change people and this is in an industry which is very vulnerable. You need to take special care of yourself in order to deal with that, to remind yourself where you have come from and keep your feet on the ground. In Ole's case, it's obvious to everyone he has.