sport news Steve McClaren on 's 1999 Champions League final win

Amid the mayhem of Teddy Sheringham's injury-time equaliser for in the 1999 Champions League final, assistant-manager Steve McClaren sought an urgent word with the boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.

'I remember saying to him, gaffer it looks like extra-time now, could we get back into some kind of shape and not take so many risks,' tells McClaren.

'He looked at me and said: 'Steve, sit down, this game ain't over yet'. Sixty seconds later, we know what happened. I thought we had another half-hour but Ole stopped that. What a shame!'

Steve McClaren was Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant at the 1999 Champions League final

Steve McClaren was Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant at the 1999 Champions League final 

McClaren is sipping coffee in the lounge of a north London hotel, mind whirring back 20 years to one of the greatest stories in British sport, summed up perfectly by Ferguson after beating Bayern Munich 2-1 with two late, late goals: 'Football, bloody hell.'

United return to the scene, Barcelona's Nou Camp, on Tuesday night needing to overturn a 1-0 first leg lead from this season's quarter-final. At least they have a man in charge who knows about comebacks in Catalonia, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who scored the winner in '99 to complete a historic Treble.

McClaren, who later went on to manage England and won major trophies with Middlesbrough and FC Twente, was just 38 at the time and had the best seat in the house alongside Ferguson, just five months after being plucked out of relative obscurity as a coach at Derby.

McClaren had the best seat in the house for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's stunning late winner

McClaren had the best seat in the house for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's stunning late winner

'My memories of the Nou Camp are so strong,' he says with feeling. 'Apart from marrying my wife and having three boys, winning the Treble was the greatest 10 days of my life, and still are.

'The FA Cup Final on the previous Saturday was big in itself. I'd never been to Wembley as a player so I was like a little kid. After the warm-up, I got Albert the kit man to put on some gloves so I could take some shots on the pitch.

'I was determined not to let the Champions League final go by in a blur. After the final whistle, I stopped during the lap of honour to look at the United fans going crazy, they'd packed out three quarters of the stadium.

'I soaked it all up for five minutes and I'm so pleased I did. From a football point of view, it was like going to heaven. I still have a picture of it in my mind and will have forever.'

McClaren had joined United at the start of the year and it proved perfect timing. He got a unique chance to observe how Ferguson managed the quest of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, never done before.

Without the suspended Paul Scholes and Roy Keane for the European final, Fergie galvanised his troops one final time against opponents who boasted world stars like Oliver Khan, Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg.

McClaren has lifted the lid on preparations, such as playing David Beckham in the middle

McClaren has lifted the lid on preparations, such as playing David Beckham in the middle

'One of the gaffer's greatest strengths was planning. That's why he was able to stay at the top with United for 27 years,' said McClaren.

'He looked at fixtures ahead. I remember once he told Wes Brown he was leaving him out of the next game but to make sure he was ready for Arsenal in three weeks time. He believed Wes was the only one who could deal with Thierry Henry's runs down the left.

'He would have known the team to play Bayern long before. We knocked on Dwight Yorke's door the morning of the FA Cup final and told him he wouldn't be playing at Wembley. Yorkie was devastated but it was because Fergie needed him for the Nou Camp.

'The biggest dilemma was midfield. Ronnie Johnsen could have played with Nicky Butt but Alex wanted Jesper Blomqvist in the team, so David Beckham shifted to the middle.

'I did the coaching but the gaffer was the master on match day. His team talk was based on emotion rather than tactical details - why this was the greatest game of their lives.

'He said it was like flying to moon, not many people get the chance, not many people even want to do it, but tonight they could fly to the moon. Were the players ready after that? Damn right, they were ready. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up as well.

'At half-time, when we were losing, he spoke about the Champions League trophy and what it'd feel like if we had to leave Barcelona without it.'

McClaren admits he said United should sit back after Teddy Sheringham's equaliser

McClaren admits he said United should sit back after Teddy Sheringham's equaliser

United's spirit during that era was legendary. McClaren witnessed the competitive element in training.

'We practiced penalties at Bisham Abbey before we flew to Barcelona for the final,' he reveals. 'We

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