Bailey’s Net Worth

Published 11 years ago
Bailey’s Net Worth

Gary Bailey has worked in one of the most unforgiving and pressurized businesses in the world: football. The hunger for success from management, the constant media scrutiny, and the demands of fans add to the pressure. Bailey played more than 370 games for Manchester United as a goalkeeper, one of the hot seats in the game.

“I’ve learnt my own lessons in how to cope with defeat, team problems and massive pressure to perform,” he says.

The highlights of Bailey’s footballing career are captured in his recently published book titled, Succeed Under Pressure: Converting Football Lessons Into Business Success written with Professor Rakesh Sondhi, an expert on leadership. The book is not a soccer memoir.


“It’s a business book, with a little bit of soccer thrown in to make it a nice read. [With] tools that people can use to be more successful under pressure,” says Bailey.

The idea to write the book came from a motivational talk, which Bailey gave in Dubai at a leadership conference, on how to succeed by using his experiences at Man United.

“I spoke about my background, how to recover from the first cup final we lost,” he says.

In 1979, they lost to Arsenal in the most dramatic fashion. Arsenal led 2-0 for 85 minutes and Man United equalized with five minutes to go but in the dying seconds Alan Sunderland scored the winner, giving Arsenal a remarkable 3-2 win.


Worse than that, in an FA Cup third round game, in January 1984, holders Manchester United were defeated 2-0 by a third division side, Bournemouth in one of the most famous FA Cup shocks and Bailey was in goals.

“It was so embarrassing. The following morning, I pick up the newspaper and there is a picture of me and all my teammates, double center spread with an axe through our heads ‘Get rid of them they are all garbage’,” says Bailey.

The loss is etched in Bailey’s memory, a stark reminder of how quickly life can change in football. It was fodder for the book, to use his experiences as a Man United player working under manager Sir Alex Ferguson, arguably the most successful and toughest football manager ever.

“It also makes sense to focus on the most successful manager in one of the toughest businesses and that’s Sir Alex Ferguson. I’ve followed his career and marveled at his ability to handle pressure and even to thrive on it,” he says.


“The book covers every aspect of leadership, whether you are the CEO of a big conglomerate or a one-man band operating from your home, and applies to big corporates and corner cafes alike,” says Bailey.

Pressure is not easy to manage and it can either build or destroy you and the book is for anyone to “manage pressure for your own benefit,” says Bailey. Some people thrive under pressure, while others fall apart, what makes the difference is how you choose to see the problem and how to deal with it and that’s the fundamental concept of reframing.

A poignant example of reframing, according to Bailey, is Ferguson’s congratulatory message to Manchester City on pipping Man United to the 2011/12 Premier League title on goal difference. Ferguson congratulated City but quickly warned his bitter rivals that United would come back stronger in the next season to fight for the trophy.

“Straightaway he turns it around, instead of moping and blaming each other,” says Bailey. Carlos Queiroz, former Manchester United assistant coach says in the book, “You see the best out of Sir Alex not when United are winning, but in our worst nightmares.”


A salient example, which epitomizes Ferguson’s adaptability, is when he had to adapt his style to cope with footballers from different cultures. Initially, Sir Alex wasn’t being understood and struggled to communicate with footballers from Latin backgrounds, players such as Juan Sebastián Verón and Diego Forlán. Bringing the tactically astute and multilingual Portuguese coach Queiroz, who is fluent in six languages and was born in Nampula, Mozambique was undoubtedly a stroke of genius.

“The coach subsequently made great strides in the way he [got] the best out of those players, for whom Manchester [was] a far cry from the sunshine and samba of their home footballing environment,” Bailey writes in the book.

For Bailey it has been a long road, his father, Roy Bailey played for Ipswich Town as a goalkeeper before moving to South Africa in the early 1960s to take up coaching. As a teenager, Gary went the other way to follow his own dream and to make his début.

“I arrived in Manchester United from South Africa as a 19-year-old goalkeeping hopeful and went from unsigned nobody to Manchester United goalkeeper,” he says.


For a man who has had the opportunity to play against soccer greats such as Diego Maradona, he singles out Kenny Dalglish as the toughest striker he ever faced. Bailey acknowledges that he is privileged to have had the opportunity to play for England and tour Europe and America with Man United. He warns that you must always stay humble.

“It’s easy to let fame go to your head,” he says.

Bailey learned the hard way, after a fight broke out with Man City fans in a pub where he was celebrating his debut 2-0 win against Ipswich, with his mates. The fight broke out after, “Manchester City fans started calling me unpleasant and rather unflattering names,” he says. Bailey got a call the next morning from the then manager, Dave Sexton, and was admonished to clean up his act.

After leaving Man United, Bailey returned to South Africa and played for Kaizer Chiefs. Bailey’s arrival at Amakhosi was welcomed and a cult status arose around him with the belief that he was unbeatable, which was quickly dispelled.


“When on my debut, against our bitter rival Orlando Pirates, they scored with their first attack… We went on to draw that game,” he says.

Despite the initial setback, Bailey played between 1988 and 1990, during which the team won five trophies, before hanging up his boots.

Bailey has also been involved in football development and worked with the University of Pretoria (Tuks) Academy between 2000 and 2004, running the business side of the academy. However, he concedes that the quality of South African footballers, especially at national level, struggles to match international standards.

“We don’t produce world class players… most of the academies in South Africa produces South African class players; they don’t necessarily want them to go overseas.”

These challenges in soccer development in South Africa, and in the broader business environment, make Bailey’s book timely and particularly salient. As he says in the book, “If the world’s business leaders share so many traits with football managers, then the men in the dugouts surely have much to teach us on the art of leading, and succeeding under pressure.”

Bailey’s experiences with Manchester United, under Ferguson’s wing, are surely a testimony that football lessons can be transferred into principles for the business world.