Hat's the limit for Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed details over a bizarre incident involving David Beckham and a beanie hat which proved the midfielder's celebrity status was getting in the way of his football.
In his recently published autobiography, Ferguson recalled how he turned up for an away game at Leicester sensing something was wrong - then discovered Beckham was at the centre of the mystery.
"I noticed the press lined up on the road to Carrington," Ferguson said. "There must have been 20 photographers."
When Ferguson asked for the reason, it transpired Beckham was getting ready to unveil a new haircut.
"David turned up with a beanie hat on. At dinner that night he was still wearing it," he said.
Ferguson told him to take it off. Beckham refused.
"I was raging," he said.
When Beckham was still wearing the hat on his way out to warm-up at Filbert Street the following day, sparks flew.
"'You'll not be going out with that beanie hat on'," Ferguson recalled. "'I'll take you out of the team right now'.
"He went berserk. I could see him being swallowed up by the media and publicity agents."
According to Ferguson, it was a relationship that began to go sour when Beckham started dating a member of the Spice Girls.
"He fell in love with Victoria and that changed everything," said Ferguson.
The end came with a boot kicked by Ferguson in the home dressing room following an FA Cup defeat by Arsenal, and the axing of Beckham for the second leg of a Champions League defeat by Real Madrid in which he scored twice.
"David is the only player I managed who chose to be famous," said Ferguson.
"He thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson."
Against Arsenal, Ferguson blamed Beckham for not picking up Sylvain Wiltord, leading to the visitors' second goal.
Defeat led to a row, which escalated.
"David swore. I moved towards him and as I approached, I kicked a boot. It hit him right above the eye."
Beckham was summoned for a meeting the following day and offered nothing in response.
By the time he was left out of the Madrid game, Ferguson felt the midfielder was on his way.
"We made the right decision to let him go to Real Madrid," said Ferguson.
"We felt it was the right time. I had to think about my own control of the club and where we were going with that."