Gary Neville leads tributes as Class of 92 coach Eric Harrison dies aged 81

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‘We’ve lost our mentor, our coach and the man who made us… Eric we owe you everything’: Gary Neville leads tributes as the man who nurtured Man United’s ‘Class of 92’ Eric Harrison dies at the age of 81

Adam Shergold for MailOnline

Eric Harrison, coach and mentor of Manchester United‘s famous Class of 92, has died at the age of 81.

He played a crucial role in nurturing the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt, who all became regulars in Alex Ferguson’s first team and led successful careers.

Neville led the tributes to Harrison on Twitter after he died having struggled with dementia for four years.

He 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.

‘Eric we owe you everything.’ 

Eric Harrison, the Manchester United coach who helped nurture Manchester United's Class of 92, has died at the age of 81. He is pictured with (left to right) Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Terry Cooke

Eric Harrison, the Manchester United coach who helped nurture Manchester United's Class of 92, has died at the age of 81. He is pictured with (left to right) Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Terry Cooke

Eric Harrison, the Manchester United coach who helped nurture Manchester United’s Class of 92, has died at the age of 81. He is pictured with (left to right) Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Terry Cooke

Eric Harrison (front), Manchester United youth team coach, with members of his team in 1992. (Left to right) Gary Neville, Ben Thornley, Steven Riley, Chris Casper, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Robbie Savage, Harrison, Richard Irving, Paul Scholes, Mark Rawlinson, John O'Kane, Jovan Kirovski, Keith Gillespie and David Pierce.

Eric Harrison (front), Manchester United youth team coach, with members of his team in 1992. (Left to right) Gary Neville, Ben Thornley, Steven Riley, Chris Casper, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Robbie Savage, Harrison, Richard Irving, Paul Scholes, Mark Rawlinson, John O'Kane, Jovan Kirovski, Keith Gillespie and David Pierce.

Eric Harrison (front), Manchester United youth team coach, with members of his team in 1992. (Left to right) Gary Neville, Ben Thornley, Steven Riley, Chris Casper, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Robbie Savage, Harrison, Richard Irving, Paul Scholes, Mark Rawlinson, John O’Kane, Jovan Kirovski, Keith Gillespie and David Pierce.

Gary Neville led tributes on Twitter, saying 'we've lost our mentor, our coach and the man who made us' and shared a picture of Harrison and the Class of 92 after the 1999 Treble win

Gary Neville led tributes on Twitter, saying 'we've lost our mentor, our coach and the man who made us' and shared a picture of Harrison and the Class of 92 after the 1999 Treble win

Gary Neville led tributes on Twitter, saying ‘we’ve lost our mentor, our coach and the man who made us’ and shared a picture of Harrison and the Class of 92 after the 1999 Treble win

United paid tribute to Harrison and posted a picture of Beckham and the Neville brothers with Harrison after United won the FA Cup in 1996

United paid tribute to Harrison and posted a picture of Beckham and the Neville brothers with Harrison after United won the FA Cup in 1996

United paid tribute to Harrison and posted a picture of Beckham and the Neville brothers with Harrison after United won the FA Cup in 1996

Harrison played in the lower leagues with Halifax, Hartlepool, Barrow and Southport before completing his coaching badges.

He arrived at United from Everton in June 1981, taking up the position as youth team manager under Ron Atkinson.

When Atkinson was sacked in 1986, Ferguson kept Harrison on but expressed dissatisfaction that not enough young players were coming through the ranks into the first team.

United vastly improved their scouting network and Harrison set to work developing a crop of talented young footballers that became known as the ‘Fergie Fledglings’.

In 1992 a side coached by Harrison won the FA Youth Cup, defeating Crystal Palace, and they reached the final again the following year, losing to Leeds United.

In 1995, a United side captained by Phil Neville and coached by Harrison won the Youth Cup again, beating Tottenham in the final. 

The likes of Giggs, Beckham, Scholes and the Neville brothers broke into United’s first team during the early to mid-1990s and would become the backbone of a remarkably successful side.

United dominated the early years of the Premier League, winning Doubles of the championship and FA Cup in 1994 and 1996.

In 1999, a United side packed with Harrison’s prodigies won an unprecedented Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. 

In all Harrison spent 27 years at Old Trafford and was awarded an MBE in December 2017.

He had been diagnosed with mixed dementia in 2014 and spent his final years in a nursing home. He died peacefully with his family by his side on Wednesday night. 

 

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