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Ferguson set to auction £3m wine collection

ESPN staff
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Sir Alex Ferguson's wine collection will be uactioned in London and Hong Kong in May © PA Photos
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Sir Alex Ferguson is to auction off the wine collection that both chronicles and relieved the stresses of his 27-year reign as Manchester United manager.

The 5,000-bottle collection will be sold in London and Hong Kong in May alongside sign memorabilia - a haul with an estimated value of £3m, according to Christie's.

Will there be a bottle of 'paintstripper'?

Mourinho made up for his first offering and soon bonded with Ferguson over a glass of wine © Getty Images
  • Whether or not Sir Alex Ferguson's collection will include the wine gifted to him by Jose Mourinho remains to be seen. The two managers had a tradition of sharing a glass of red after their teams' encounters in the Premier League - though Ferguson described the first wine Mourinho ever provided him as being "like paintstripper".
  • Mourinho made amends with a £300 bottle of Portuguese red the next time around. Their final post-match encounter came at Old Trafford as Real Madrid knocked Ferguson's United out of the Champions League in the last 16 in 2013.

Ferguson's cellar covered the span of his Unite career dating back to 1986, with almost two thirds of the collection consisting of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, a French Burgundy which is currently "in vogue" with connoisseurs.

Some of the most valuable lots are expected to come from the 1999 collection, the year that United won the Treble, an unrivalled feat in English football.

"People keep saying, 'What was the best moment of your life as a manager?' and '99 is without question," Ferguson is quoted as saying in an interview to promote the sale.

"There was always this thing about my career that I never had won the Champions League, so to win it in the way we did win it was absolutely fantastically special. And it coincided with a vintage; you were talking about Romanee-Conti '99, a really special year. I think we deserved that."

Ferguson took up wine collecting in 1991 during a visit to France and it developed into a way to take his mind off the stresses of football management.

"Taking an interest in wine allowed me to have an interest outside the game. You have to have outside interests to distract you from the intensity and the pressure you come under as a football manager.

"And all of a sudden, two or three years ago, when I'm going through the portfolio, we realise this has got to be an amazing amount of wine. I retired last year, and I thought this was a good time to sell it."

He also discussed how it became a ritual to treat visiting managers to a glass of his finest, and to accept gift bottles in return.

"Even though the rivalries are intense, you have to find that moment where you can say, 'Look, the game's a game - let's carry on with our lives.'"

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