For most Manchester United fans there’s only one Eric.
But for many former Manchester United players, especially those who played for the youth team in the eighties and nineties, mention the name Eric and another United legend will probably spring to mind. A man whose contribution to Manchester United’s unequalled success under Sir Alex Ferguson was even greater than that of his French namesake.
Eric Harrison was responsible for the development of some of United’s greatest players of the last 35 years, notably the Class of 92.
It’s a measure of the esteem in which the former United youth team coach was held that when it was announced that he had passed away aged 81, social media was flooded with tributes from former colleagues and players – more than most former players or managers would probably receive.
Eric Harrison was a wonderful coach for players coming through @ManUtd and helped produce some of the best but as much as anything he taught you how to conduct yourself and make that step from boy to man. A fantastic influence on so many including myself. RIP Eric.
— Danny Higginbotham (@Higginbotham05) February 14, 2019
“Eric’s contribution to football, and not just at Manchester United, was incredible,” said Sir Alex Ferguson.
“When I came in as manager, I was lucky enough to have Eric on the staff as head of youth development, so I got to see the work he did and not just with the Class of ’92 but with all the young players. He built character and determination in those young players and prepared them for the future.
“He was a teacher, he gave these players a path, a choice and he only did that through his own hard work and sacrifice. He was able to impart that education to the young which made him one of the greatest coaches of our time.”
Eric Harrison, one of footballs greatest people has sadly passed away. Responsible for the development of The Class of 92 and so many other great players that came through the @ManUtd academy he was one of the clubs biggest heroes. RIP Eric pic.twitter.com/gainlxov5u
— Peter Schmeichel (@Pschmeichel1) February 14, 2019
Gary Neville, captain of the United side that won the 1992 FA Youth Cup under Eric, posted on Instagram: “We’ve lost our mentor, our coach and the man who made us. He taught us how to play, how to never give up, how important it was to win your individual battles and what we needed to do to play for Manchester United Football Club.
“He was always watching and always with us every time we played. More importantly he made us understand how to work hard and respect each other and not just on the pitch. We won’t forget the life lessons he gave us. Eric we love you and owe you everything.”
Also on Instagram, David Beckham wrote : “We’ve lost our mentor, our coach and the man who made us. He taught us how to play, how to never give up, how important it was to win your individual battles and what we needed to do to play for Manchester United Football Club. He was always watching and always with us every time we played, I can still hear him telling me NO MORE HOLLYWOOD PASSES. I can still see him as we played on The Cliff training ground looking down on us either with a proud smile or a loud bang of his fist on the window knowing any minute he would be on his way down to probably advise me in the most polite way to stop playing those passes. More importantly he made us understand how to work hard and respect each other and not just on the pitch. We won’t forget the life lessons he gave us. Eric we love you and owe you everything. ❤ Gary, Phil, Ryan, Paul, Nicky and David.”
And a final word from the other Eric, also on Instagram:
“A great coach and a great man. I’ll never forget you and the way you worked with young players, Eric. You made them so great. Rest In Peace.”