On Saturday, 2 March 2013, the Ferenc Puskás – Sir Alex Ferguson Trophy was presented for the 6th time to the Robert Burns International Foundation’s Sponsor of the Year on the hallowed turf at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United. This year, RBIF Honorary President Sir Alex Ferguson presented the trophy to Stewart Miller, a proud Scot with strong footballing traditions, and who unknowingly was the initial driving force behind the trophy itself (see interview below).
The match on 2 March was against Norwich City and was played, as usual, in front of a full house of 75,000 people. The RBIF is traditionally good mascot for the Red Devils as never has the delegation from the Foundation seen the home lose. This year was no different as a hat trick from Shinji Kagawa along with a 25-yard screamer from Wayne Rooney made sure the lucky streak continued.
Stewart, the Puskás Ferenc – Sir Alex Ferguson trophy started out as a small gift from you to Mrs Puskás after Ferenc died. What was the original thought behind the gift?
My father and grandfather were both at Hampden in 1960 to watch the Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt European Cup Final. Now regarded as one of the best football matches ever, Real Madrid won 7-3 and Puskas scored 4 goals. I grew up in a football family and the mens’ discussions were always about football. Ferenc Puskas was spoken about almost daily in our household. So much so that when I was a child I thought he was a relative! I assumed he was my uncle. Therefore at a very young age an emotional attachment formed between myself and the Little General. The trophy was a small token from myself and the football fans of Scotland, to let Mrs Puskas know he was very much loved in Scotland. Part of his appeal was the fact that he was not built like some Olympian Athlete. But he could certainly play football!!!
Now your name is on the trophy alongside all the previous winners, can you sum up what the day at Old Trafford meant for you?
The Old Trafford day was one of the best experiences of my life. I am very honoured to be named on this trophy, along with organisations like Diageo, Vodafone and Tesco. I thoroughly enjoyed the company I was in too. I think Hungarians and Scottish people are very similar. We share a great sense of humour. Meeting Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest football manager of all time, was also amazing. The icing on the cake was during the stadium and museum tour when I found out that my great uncle, Thomas Miller, played for Manchester United in the 1920’s.
How important do you find the work of the RBIF in Hungary and the current intensive-care unit appeal?
Firstly it’s amazing that we have the Robert Burns International Foundation based in Hungary. Robert Burns and his works really do have global appeal. I think the work the RBIF is doing is very important and it is also a very worthwhile cause, assisting children. I think helping children in any way we can is very important, because they are our future. It is vital for children to know that there are people and organisations out with their families, who care about their health and wellbeing. Robert Burns would have been very, very proud of the work and achievements of the RBIF.
Most of the fundraising over the years so far has been Hungary-based, do you think there is scope for strengthening links between Scotland and Hungary in this area?
There is definite scope for strengthening links between Scotland and Hungary in this area. For example, recently a friend of mine was over in Budapest to launch one of his whisky books. This friend speaks at Burns Suppers all over the world. When I told him about the RBIF he was very interested, because he did not know of its existence. When he found out more he got very excited and he has asked his partners in Budapest to follow this up. This is just one small example of the potential. I now see myself as an unofficial ‘ambassador’ for the RBIF. I will try to identify some of the Scottish (and UK) companies that view Hungary as a key export market. This I think will be a sensible start for me to try to identify further potential sponsors.