Ferguson played as a forward for several Scottish clubs, including Dunfermline Athletic and Rangers. While playing for Dunfermline, he was the top goalscorer in the Scottish league in the 1965–66 season. Towards the end of his playing career he also worked as a coach, then started his managerial career with East Stirlingshire and St Mirren. Ferguson then enjoyed a highly successful period as manager of Aberdeen, winning three Scottish league championships, four Scottish Cups and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1983. He briefly managed Scotland following the death of Jock Stein, taking the team to the 1986 World Cup.
Ferguson was appointed manager of Manchester United in November 1986. During his 26 years with Manchester United he won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League titles. He was knighted in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours list, for his services to the game. Ferguson is the longest serving manager of Manchester United, having overtaken Sir Matt Busby's record on 19 December 2010. He retired from management at the end of the 2012–13 season, having won the Premier League in his final season.
Born to Alexander Beaton Ferguson, a plater's helper in the shipbuilding industry, and his wife, Elizabeth (née Hardie), Alex Chapman Ferguson was born at his grandmother's home on Shieldhall Road in Govan on 31 December 1941, but grew up in a tenement at 667 Govan Road (which has since been demolished), where he lived with his parents as well as his younger brother Martin.
Ferguson attended Broomloan Road Primary School and later Govan High School. He began his football career with Harmony Row Boys Club in Govan, before progressing to Drumchapel Amateurs, a youth club with a strong reputation for producing senior footballers.
Ferguson's playing career began as an amateur with Queen's Park, where he made his debut as a striker aged 16. He described his first match as a "nightmare", but scored Queen's Park's goal in a 2–1 defeat against Stranraer. Perhaps his most notable game for Queen's Park was the 7–1 defeat away to Queen of the South on Boxing Day 1959 when ex-England international Ivor Broadis scored four of the Queen of the South goals. Ferguson was the solitary Queen's Park goalscorer.