McIlroy: Fergie’s speech was highlight of Ryder Cup so far

Sir Alex Ferguson speaks to the European Ryder team

Sir Alex Ferguson speaks to the European Ryder team

Rory McIlroy admitted he was in a trance listening to former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson address the European Ryder Cup team on Tuesday evening.

Ferguson was invited to Gleneagles by home captain Paul McGinley and, as a fan of the Red Devils, world number one McIlroy in particular was thrilled to listen to what Ferguson had to say.

"For me, being a Manchester United fan, it was the highlight of the week so far," said the Open champion, who paraded the Claret Jug at Old Trafford earlier this season.

"I was just sitting there and looking up at him and I didn't take my eyes off him. I was sort of in this trance just listening to everything that he was saying and I'm sort of thinking, this is all the stuff that he's probably said to Manchester United teams over the years.

"He told us a couple of stories just of past experiences in some big games and some of the players that he managed and it was a great evening. It was a really cool thing to be a part of."

McIlroy joked that the non-Manchester United fans in the team made their feelings known, adding: "But (it was) very useful because we got to ask some questions, just about different things and what he thought was the key element to being successful as a team.

"He's a very inspirational sort of man when he talks. He's got a lot of authority and the room just goes quiet and everyone listens."

Asked if Ferguson had offered advice about playing in front of large crowds, the 25-year-old added: "Not about crowds in general. We play in front of big crowds week in, week out.

"United were obviously favourites and whenever he was managing, they made Old Trafford a bit of a fortress. And when teams went there, it was very hard to compete against United. He was just talking a bit about that. We're slight favourites for a reason. We deserve to be. We've played well this year. It's not something that we should shy away from. It's something that we should embrace."

It has become a habit for big names from different sports to be brought in to speak to Ryder Cup teams, McIlroy admitting the one he remembers most was speaking to Seve Ballesteros via teleconference at Celtic Manor in 2010.

And he added: "These things, they help. They are little details in the bigger picture, but it could be that half a per cent or that one per cent that helps us to get back that little trophy."

Real Madrid fan Sergio Garcia conceded he was not Ferguson's biggest fan, but added: "I think when you have the possibility of listening to somebody that has been up there in sports and been able to perform at a really high level for that long, it's always interesting to kind of pick his brain and see what things he's gone through.

"It was really, really interesting, and I'm actually glad that I got to… I think we all did, got to know him a little bit better and listen to him a little bit."

Celtic fan Stephen Gallacher revealed he had received a good luck message from former Parkhead boss Martin O'Neill, but was also impressed by Ferguson.

"I thought he was brilliant," Gallacher said. "He spoke for half an hour and then we sort of asked him some questions and he was very candid and very open. There's bits that I definitely would take away from it, not just as a team aspect, but for progression going forward.

"I kind of knew he was (a confident person) anyway, but to hear him talking you can see why the players respected him so much. You can see his sort of passion for the game and how much he loves football and how much he loves the strategy and the game.

"He misses it a bit, he said, but, you know, an absolute legend in my eyes."

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