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Barcelona among those to pay tribute to Sean Connery after Bond icon (and former Man Utd target) dies aged 90

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© REUTERS/David Moir/File Photo; SEAN CONNERY in 007, JAMES BOND NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983)
Sean Connery, iconic James Bond actor, dies aged 90

A keen footballer, Connery is said to have once been offered the chance to join Manchester United, but he denied speculation that he had a trial with Scottish giants Celtic.

“I played for Bonnyrigg Rose and I was offered a trial by East Fife,” said the actor. “That’s the truth. Celtic, no.” 

In 1953, nine years before his first appearance as Bond, Connery was spotted by United manager Sir Matt Busby – who won 13 trophies at the club including five First Division titles and the European Cup – while playing a match in Manchester.

Busby, who was scouting the game, was so impressed with Connery’s performance that he reportedly immediately offered him a contract of £25 ($32) per week.

Connery was only a part-time actor at the time, but ultimately chose to remain on that path.

“I really wanted to accept because I loved football,” he said. “But I realized that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23. I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”

FIFA paid tribute to Connery via its official Twitter account, as did Barcelona, whom he paid a visit to in 2005.

As well as football, Connery was also a tennis fan, and the US Open paid tribute to him as well.

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of Sean Connery, a lifelong fan of the sport and a familiar face at the US Open,” the account said. “Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time.”

The film star, along with then-United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, surprised compatriot Andy Murray during a press conference at Flushing Meadows in 2012.

Murray beat Novak Djokovic to win the US Open the following day, his maiden Grand Slam title in what was his fifth final.

In 2017, the tournament also played the James Bond theme in honor of Connery when he attended Roger Federer’s first-round clash with Frances Tiafoe.

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