Tributes: Eric Harrison, former Manchester United youth coach, dies aged 81

Waking up to the news of Eric Harrison passing away, I scrolled through my Twitter feed taking in all the lovely tributes.

After being diagnosed with mixed dementia four years ago, Harrison, 81, passed away peacefully on Wednesday night, surrounding by his family.

Gary Neville led the tributes with an emotional tweet, paying respect to the man he holds responsible for being a mentor, coach and helping him and other young footballers go from being boys to men.

Neville and his brother, Phil, both came through the Manchester United academy and worked under Harrison. The Neville brothers went on to become first-team players and were very successful at United, especially Gary, who captioned the club towards the end of his playing career.

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Coaches at youth level play a key role in shaping footballers for their later years, and everyone at Manchester United had a soft spot of Harrison, who was also responsible for shaping the Class of 92, readying the likes of David Beckham and Paul Scholes for first-team football.

His legacy will forever be part of United’s history, laying solid foundations with a good youth academy. Sir Alex Ferguson made in clear with his tribute message to Harrison that it wasn’t just about the Class of 92, Harrison developed many a good player for the manager to keep an eye on.

According to Oliver Kay of The Times, when David Beckham heard Harrison was ill, he baked a carrot cake with his children and drove 400 miles (round trip) to Halifax to see him. That shows the esteem former Manchester United players had for their former coach, Harrison.

Former United player Danny Higginbotham also paid his respects by crediting Harrison for his influence as a football coach. Everyone

We are extremely saddened by the news. Our thoughts are with Eric’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Below are more tributes to the great Harrison.

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