After calling time on his 40 years of service as a United scout, Ron Cattell was a very special guest at Sunday's game against Chelsea.
Proud to have been associated with the Reds, Ron was one of the network of spies employed by the club to run the rule over the opposition and identify promising schoolboy talent. Based in Yorkshire, he provided invaluable service to Frank O'Farrell initially before working under Sir Alex in the current golden era for the club.
A semi-professional goalkeeper in his playing days, he even lined up against a 16-year-old Duncan Edwards whilst at Buxton, Ron wrote to United after spotting a couple of youngsters in the area.
"'When making a career, it is best to start at the top', is my motto," he admitted. "I don't believe in starting at the bottom in the hope that one will rise accordingly. Go for the best and you will end up the best."
It was his dossier, personally delivered to the boss on his specific instruction, that enabled Sir Alex and his assistants to analyse Liverpool's strengths and weaknesses in forensic detail ahead of a New Year's Day game in 1989. The homework paid off when United won 4-1 on a game that sowed the seeds of the start of a real power shift in the English game.
As for players, as well as a number of schoolboys and apprentices, Tony Gill and Paul Teather were both spotted as nine-year-olds by Ron. Gill was tipped for the top before breaking his leg against Nottingham Forest and sadly seeing his fledgling career cut short and Teather also suffered injury problems but is now chief physio at Sheffield United.
Ron, who served his country in the Royal Air Force, will have enjoyed watching the champions provide the sort of entertaining football that has been the hallmark under Sir Alex during a 3-1 success against Chelsea in an eventful match.
"It's been a great honour to serve under him," he added in an exclusive interview with United Review.