I'm an ex-Man Utd boss and pulled off hilarious dressing-room stunt to help beat them as Alex Ferguson watched on | The Sun

FORMER Manchester United boss Ron Atkinson once got the better of Sir Alex Ferguson thanks to a brilliant pre-match stunt.

Ferguson replaced Atkinson as Red Devils boss in 1986 but their paths crossed frequently in the following years.

After his five-year spell at Old Trafford Atkinson managed West Brom, Coventry, Aston Villa, and had two spells at Sheffield Wednesday.

In his second stint with the Owls Atkinson managed to get one over on his former employers – thanks to an unlikely stunt.

Atkinson, 84, was surprise friends with Italian singer Renato Pagliari and he invited the former chart-topper into the dressing room ahead of a clash at Hillsborough in 1998.

The experienced manager was hoping to inspire Italian pair Paolo Di Canio and Benito Carbone with a rendition of Nessun Dorma – but the song also had an impact on someone else, Ferguson.


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Atkinson recalled the hilarious incident in an interview with The Mirror, saying: “We had Paolo Di Canio and Benito Carbone in our team at the time.

“To make them feel at home I brought Renato into the dressing room to sing Nessun Dorma before we played United.

“I was good friends with Renato, who was a great singer although the song which made him famous embarrassed him a bit. But I brought him into the changing room and said, 'Go on, give us the Goalkeeper Song' – I always called Nessun Dorma the 'Goalkeeper Song' because when it was the theme tune at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Dino Zoff used to dive across the screen.

“Anyway, Renato is giving it the full tenor when Fergie walks past in the corridor and our door is half-open. I called out to him, 'Hey, Alex, come in here!' So 15 minutes before kick-off, I've got Fergie in our dressing room listening to Renato serenading our Italian lads with Nessun Dorma.

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“United had beaten us 6-1 at Old Trafford six months earlier, but we beat them 2-0 and Di Canio scored one of the goals.

"Strangely, that was the last time I managed to persuade Sir Alex to join in one of our concert recitals."

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