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Beckham pays tribute as Man Utd coaching icon Harrison passes away

Former Manchester United youth coach Eric Harrison has passed away. He was 81.

Harrison, credited with the development of United's fabled 'Class of '92', was diagnosed with dementia four years ago.

He passed away on Wednesday, with his family by his side.

A Manchester United statement on Thursday morning declared: "We are extremely saddened to report that our former youth coach Eric Harrison passed away last night.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Eric's family and friends at this sad and difficult time."

Harrison became United's youth team manager in 1981, taken to the club from Everton by Ron Atkinson.

His first major finds were Norman Whiteside and Mark Hughes, both of whom appeared in United's 1981-82 FA Youth Cup Final loss to Watford; Northern Ireland international Whiteside would go on to score key goals in the senior side's FA Cup victory the following year.

Harrison's greatest successes came following the arrival of Sir Alex Ferguson in 1986, with the Scot revamping the club's scouting network.

That led to the fabled class of '92, and what has widely been acknowledged as one of the greatest crops of young players to graduate into a first team simultaneously in the history of English football.

Harrison spent 27 years at Old Trafford before departing, and was awarded an MBE in 2017 for his services to football.

United legend David Beckham paid tribute this morning: "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 everytime 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."

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Paul Vegas

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