Ex-goalkeeper Leighton had been brought to Manchester United by Ferguson after the pair had enjoyed success together at Aberdeen. However, the relationship - which Leighton says had already become “pretty frosty” - suddenly “went to zero” following a 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final. Leighton was dropped for the replay - which United won 1-0 - and would only make one further appearance for Ferguson.
“We’ve never spoken since and never will do again,” he told BBC’s Sportsound programme.
Leighton had been the only player dropped for the replay and chose to return the winner’s medal he was sent. “I had been fortunate enough to win quite a few medals up to that time and, unless I could walk up the stairs and wear the hat and the scarf and lift the cup, then I didn’t want anybody’s charity,” he said.
The goalkeeper had won nine trophies with Ferguson at Aberdeen but believes he is far from the only player harbouring resentment towards their former manager.
“The players and Archie Knox, who was the assistant, get together and we have a WhatsApp group. If he came on it, I would go off it, which is quite sad, but I am not alone.”
Leighton also claimed that Ferguson lost the respect of the Dons squad following their Scottish Cup win over Rangers in 1983. In an on-field interview soon after the match, Ferguson made a point of praising Alex McLeish and Willie Miller for their performances, ignoring the rest. Only 10 days previously, the team had lifted the European Cup Winners Cup.
“Nobody had any resentment towards Alex and Willie, but we all lost a lot of respect that day for [Ferguson] considering what we had achieved 10 days before that.
“He apologised to us the next morning, but the damage had been done for a lot of us.”