PICTURE SPECIAL – Sir Alex Ferguson through the years as Manchester United legend turns 80

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PICTURE SPECIAL – Fergie through the years: Sportsmail looks back through the archives to see how a Glasgow boy went from baby-faced assassin to Manchester United and football’s biggest personality

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He’s arguably the greatest manager of all-time and definitely the most successful in terms of trophy wins – Sir Alex Ferguson is celebrating his 80th birthday this New Year’s Eve after an incredible life in football.

The Glasgow-born young striker emerged into one of football’s biggest personalities, becoming a cult hero at Aberdeen before his incredible 26-year career at Manchester United. 

From his infamous ‘hairdryer treatment’ to the tactical genius that made him the only manager in English football to win the Treble, Ferguson dominated both the front and the back pages of Britain’s broadsheets as he forged a career that has yet to be matched.

As Fergie celebrates his special landmark, Sportsmail goes through the archives to bring you the best photos from his playing days in Scotland to the champagne farewell at Old Trafford.

Govan-born Alex Ferguson first became known in football by scoring a hat-trick for St Johnstone against Rangers in 1963

Govan-born Alex Ferguson first became known in football by scoring a hat-trick for St Johnstone against Rangers in 1963

After St Johnstone, Ferguson (bottom row, second right) also turned out for Dunfermline Athletic where he scored 66 times

After St Johnstone, Ferguson (bottom row, second right) also turned out for Dunfermline Athletic where he scored 66 times

A young Ferguson relaxing at home during his Dunfermline Athletic days, reading about the history of the Second World War

A young Ferguson relaxing at home during his Dunfermline Athletic days, reading about the history of the Second World War

The striker then completed a move to Rangers in 1967 where he spent two years and scored 25 goals in 45 matches

The striker then completed a move to Rangers in 1967 where he spent two years and scored 25 goals in 45 matches

Ferguson playing in one of his first Rangers games against Arsenal in August 1967 - his first of many clashes with the Gunners

Ferguson playing in one of his first Rangers games against Arsenal in August 1967 – his first of many clashes with the Gunners

Ferguson then moved to Falkirk in 1969 where he played 95 times (pictured: Fergie walking off after being sent off for Falkirk)

Ferguson then moved to Falkirk in 1969 where he played 95 times (pictured: Fergie walking off after being sent off for Falkirk)

After ending his career at Ayr, he started coaching at East Stirlingshire and then St Mirren with assistant David Proven (right)

Ferguson (left) discussing important tactical instructions with St Mirren assistant Proven (right) in the dressing room bath

Ferguson (left) discussing important tactical instructions with St Mirren assistant Proven (right) in the dressing room bath

The Fergies: Alex (second left) with wife Cathy (left) and twins Jason and Darren as Ferguson continues his coaching rise

The Fergies: Alex (second left) with wife Cathy (left) and twins Jason and Darren as Ferguson continues his coaching rise

Putting the Dons on the map: Ferguson moved to Aberdeen and took them to the final of the 1982 European Cup Winners' Cup

Putting the Dons on the map: Ferguson moved to Aberdeen and took them to the final of the 1982 European Cup Winners’ Cup

Ferguson (left) with trusted assistant Archie Knox (right) after winning the 1983 European Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen

Ferguson (left) with trusted assistant Archie Knox (right) after winning the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen

The top job: Alex Ferguson after being appointed Manchester United manager in 1986 - the start of 26 years at Old Trafford

The top job: Alex Ferguson after being appointed Manchester United manager in 1986 – the start of 26 years at Old Trafford

Ferguson in the Manchester United dugout during his first game as Red Devils boss at Oxford United on November 8, 1986

Ferguson in the Manchester United dugout during his first game as Red Devils boss at Oxford United on November 8, 1986

The first of many: Alex Ferguson with the 1990 FA Cup, which was the first of 38 trophies with Manchester United

The first of many: Alex Ferguson with the 1990 FA Cup, which was the first of 38 trophies with Manchester United 

Manchester United back on top of English football: Ferguson leads United to the inaugural Premier League title in 1993

Manchester United back on top of English football: Ferguson leads United to the inaugural Premier League title in 1993 

The treble: Ferguson with his 1999 Manchester United squad after beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League final

The treble: Ferguson with his 1999 Manchester United squad after beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League final

Ferguson with 1999 Champions League matchwinner Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (right) after the final victory over Bayern Munich

Ferguson with 1999 Champions League matchwinner Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (right) after the final victory over Bayern Munich

Serial winners: Fergie celebrates bringing three Premier League titles in a row - in 1999, 2000 and 2001 - back to Old Trafford

Serial winners: Fergie celebrates bringing three Premier League titles in a row – in 1999, 2000 and 2001 – back to Old Trafford

Ferguson celebrates 1,000 games with Man United in November 2004 with a celebratory cake at the Sports Editors' Lunch

Ferguson celebrates 1,000 games with Man United in November 2004 with a celebratory cake at the Sports Editors’ Lunch

Rivalry: Ferguson (right) shouting alongside arch-rival Arsene Wenger (left) of Arsenal in a heated 2005 Premier League game

Rivalry: Ferguson (right) shouting alongside arch-rival Arsene Wenger (left) of Arsenal in a heated 2005 Premier League game

Back on top: Ferguson with Cristiano Ronaldo (right) after winning a second Champions League title in Moscow in 2008

Back on top: Ferguson with Cristiano Ronaldo (right) after winning a second Champions League title in Moscow in 2008

The end: Sir Alex Ferguson waves goodbye to Manchester United with one last trophy lift - the 2013 Premier League title

The end: Sir Alex Ferguson waves goodbye to Manchester United with one last trophy lift – the 2013 Premier League title

Fergie's most recent snap: attending Boxing Day's King George VI Chase Day at Kempton Park, now retired for eight years

Fergie’s most recent snap: attending Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase Day at Kempton Park, now retired for eight years

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