Sir Alex Ferguson owes success to being beaten with a belt

Sir Alex Ferguson says he owes his success to being beaten with a belt by his schoolteacher, Elizabeth Thomson, when he stepped out of line as a schoolboy.

"Six from that belt and you were in absolute agony. That was the punishment you had, in my case, usually for fighting in the playground," Ferguson said. "Elizabeth Thomson was an inspiration to me. She had a raw determination about her and she improved everyone she touched". He added: "Mrs Thomson endeavoured to make you be the best you could be. Yes, that part of me comes from her."

He says he kept in touch with her long after his schooldays ended in the 1950s, doing so as manager of Aberdeen and then United before retiring at the end of last season. "When she died, I couldn't go to her funeral, but months later I got a parcel. She had bequeathed her belt to me. Her nephew sent it with a letter saying: 'You'll know more about this belt than anyone.' It's in my study now. My grandchildren are terrified of it."

Corporal punishment was banned in Glasgow schools in 1982.