Man Utd ace who played in Sir Alex Ferguson’s first game now works as HGV driver

During the 1980s, Graeme Hogg was driving at opposing wingers in the red of Manchester United – nowadays he is driving HGV vehicles in the luminous green of high-vis jackets. It is not the glamorous end footballers in this day and age may be accustomed to. His name may not have gone down in the annals of Old Trafford folklore alongside George Best, Eric Cantona, Paul Scholes, or, to an extent, Cristiano Ronaldo, but his name is carved into the bricks of Old Trafford – every player who plays more than 50 matches for United are granted this significant honour.

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr team-mate’s stunned reaction shows he still has it However, Hogg was one of the many players who laid the foundations for Sir Alex Ferguson’s monumental United reign. In fact, it would be fair to say he was one of the first bricks.

Hogg was one of United's go-to players in his early years as Red Devils' bossHogg was one of United’s go-to players in his early years as Red Devils’ boss

He was part of the defence which lost 2-0 away to Oxford United in Ferguson’s first ever match as United manager Hogg was a full back for the Red Devils

Unlike the modern day defenders who are encouraged to attack and drive forward like wingers, Hogg was required to remain alongside his central defender. “When I look back on it I was probably a better player than what I showed at professional level,” Hogg, who also won four Scotland Under-21 caps, said to the Herald. “I could do different things but I was stuck at the back and I was just told to go and head the ball. But, listen, I did alright.”

What other players from Sir Alex Ferguson’s days can you remember? Let us know in the comments section below. Heading footballs is always difficult but his role was not solely confined to clambering over wingers and nodding the ball back from whence it came.

He was once entrusted with the daunting task of marking Diego Maradona. During an appearance on the Utd podcast, Hogg was asked the obvious question about his battle against the legendary Argentine. “Aye, that was a big pocket,” Hogg replied when asked if he kept the little, stocky magician at bay.

Unfortunately, while the hard bit of his job was performed impeccably, the now 58-year-old admitted it was not the perfect game for him.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 01: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson pictured ahead of the 1987/88 season in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Rusty Cheyne/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)

“I scored an own goal over there,” he admitted. “By God, what a goal it was! It had been raining and the guy crossed it from the right-hand side and I tried to just block it and it skidded right off my boot and straight in the roof of the net.” “Try as much as possible to keep him in front of you,” Hogg added when asked to decipher how he kept Maradona so quiet for so long.

“Don’t give him the speed, don’t get too tight on him. Just give yourself that half-yard, so that if he does turn, you can – in the first 10 minutes, anyway – nail him. Make sure he knows the score.

“That actually happened. He turned straight into me and then he got up and was giving it the old, whatever it was he said to me, I don’t know. He kept kind of distanced from me, he was dropping short quite a lot and never once got on the ball and started running at me.” Unfortunately for the Scot, this fantastic feat so few could ever achieve did not spare him from disappointment.

After departing United in 1987, Hogg was sent on loan to West Brom, before moving to Portsmouth on a permanent basis.

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Three years on the south coast were followed by four more at Hearts, three seasons at Notts County – where he earned his highest salary of GBP750 per week – and then a short loan at Brentford. He would have had one more year on loan at Griffin Park had there not been a change of ownership that ended those hopes. Life as a footballer was very different to the 1990s.

Wages were nowhere near as lucrative and there were little support mechanisms for players heading out of the beautiful game. “There was no phone number I could ring to say ‘I’ve been a professional footballer, I played against Maradona, been at the highest level and I’m now a security guard manning a building in a retail park in Larbert, can I get some help,” Hogg added. “Can you put me through a course?

I got nothing, it was just a case of ‘well, son, you’re on civvy street, now, you need to roll the sleeves up and get on with it’.

Hogg faced Maradona during a European Cup Winners Cup quarter-final tie in 1986

“I needed to pay the bills. What’s out in the open now is the help that people get and the money that people are getting now is far, far superior to what I was on. I was on GBP500 a week at Manchester United.

I thought to myself ‘what can I do? What. Can.

I. Do?’ “I went from school, no A levels, no education at 16-year-old straight down to Man United.

The only thing I knew how to do was drive a car. I thought the only way I’m going to get a decent living is by taking and passing my HGV courses.” Just like most of his endeavours in football, Hogg succeeded in his HGV courses and passed with flying colours.

In fact, he can still be found behind the wheel of a HGV vehicle of food distribution company Bidfood. “For better or for worse, there are still many around his area who remember exactly who he was. “You go into civvy street, into a job and somebody says ‘Do you know who that is?

That’s big so and so, played with Man United, played with Hearts’ and then you’ll get the odd one who’ll go ‘He’s not with Man United any more, I’ll sort him out’.

You’ve got to be strong in a sense.”

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