Ferguson and Crerand hail 1960 Real Madrid side

Friday 24 April 2020 11:25

The all-conquering Real Madrid side of the late 1950s and early 1960s are widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time, and they certainly made an impression on an 18-year-old by the name of Alex Ferguson, who saw them at their zenith on a historic occasion in Glasgow.

“I was lucky to be at the European Cup final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden in 1960,” recalled the Scot.
“The first thing to remember was that Eintracht Frankfurt beat Rangers 12-4 on aggregate in the semi-final and, being a Rangers fan at the time, we thought those guys were gods. They were the best team I'd ever seen in my life, and then they got slaughtered 7-3 in the final! 
Ferguson was one of over 127,000 fans who watched the 1960 final in Glasgow.
“That put into perspective how good Real Madrid really were. Real lost the first goal as well but what was incredible was that Ferenc Puskas scored four and Alfredo Di Stefano scored three – two players scoring seven goals between them in a European Cup final!
“I was starting out at Queen's Park at the time so I had got a ticket in the Schoolboy Enclosure, because Hampden was Queen's Park's ground. When the final whistle went, I ran to get my bus back to Govan – I always used to run back to the bus terminus rather than queue up with all the crowds outside Hampden. When the bus came round, it was still empty and I couldn't understand it, then I realised the whole crowd had stayed in the ground to watch the celebrations. I missed the laps of honour by that brilliant Madrid side just to be able to get my bus home!”
One of Ferguson's compatriots, 1968 European Cup-winner Paddy Crerand, was also a huge admirer of that year's Real Madrid side and, in particular, Di Stefano.
Crerand – then a Celtic first-teamer, and three years away from joining United – was unable to attend the match in person, but the mighty Argentinian general still made a big impact on Paddy's thinking.
“Di Stefano was the best player I’ve ever seen, past or present. Better than Messi, better than Pele, better than even George [Best]," he explained.
Both Ferguson and Crerand believe Di Stefano (seen relaxing with his colleagues here in Manchester in 1957) is among the game's greats.
"In fact, if George was here now, God bless him, he’d be agreeing with me. Di Stefano had the most incredible football brain and controlled every match. I played against him once for Celtic in a friendly, towards the end of his career, and he was still absolutely terrific.
“Unfortunately, I was with Celtic in Ireland when he scored a hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the famous final at Hampden Park in Glasgow, but we watched it on the TV and were amazed at what we saw. He was the best I’d seen back then, and nothing in all the years since has changed my mind.”