Former Manchester United player admits he ‘couldn’t stop smiling’ despite being on the end of his first hairdryer from Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former Manchester United player Luke Chadwick came through the club's academy in the late 1990s, making his debut for the Red Devils in October 1999 in the third round of the League Cup in a 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa.

Still only 19 at the time, Chadwick played for a young United side against an Aston Villa team full of experienced players, but neither he nor his teammates managed to impose themselves on the game.

Despite the age of the team, though, this didn't stop legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson from producing his infamous hairdryer treatment. Just five months after completing the historic treble, Chadwick explains how Ferguson flew off the rails at his young haunches.

Still, that didn't affect the midfielder's mood too much at the time.

"My first appearance was in a Monday night League Cup game – the sort of match when Sir Alex would often throw on some young players," Chadwick told FourFourTwo

"We were up against Aston Villa and Dion Dublin was playing for them that night. I was starstruck, as I’d grown up a massive Cambridge United supporter and Dion was a legend there when I was a kid. We lost 3-0 and when we walked back into the dressing room, Sir Alex was going berserk at us, saying that we might be young players but this was still Manchester United and losing like that is unacceptable.

"I listened, but secretly I was just pleased to have made an appearance for the first team. I couldn’t stop smiling."

Chadwick continues, explaining that while he was still a young player at the time, standards were still expected of him and Ferguson showed him the same respect as he did to older, more established pros.

"He made everyone feel like a vital part of the football club. He treated everyone the same, be it the dinner ladies, the kitman, Roy Keane or Ryan Giggs. He had everyone feeling they were part of something. That was the genius of Sir Alex. We’d have run through brick walls for him. 

"If he acknowledged your individual performance or took a moment to commend you in front of the other lads, it’d make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up – and not only me, but all of us. You were just really happy and proud that you’d pleased him. 

"He was well known for the hairdryer treatment too, of course, and if he ever had a go at you it was scary. But the worst thing in the world back then was feeling like you’d let him down. He was the one guy in the whole world who you wanted to impress."

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.