As Manchester United's legendary former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson is well acquainted with the phrase "a game of two halves".

But the retired boss has experienced mixed emotions on his return to his home community of Govan in Glasgow.

The 72-year-old spent yesterday meeting mothers and their newborns at the Southern General Hospital in his role as a UN ambassador for the charity Unicef.

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Then a few hours later, Sir Alex's old school burned down one-and-a-half miles away. Fire crews spent several hours tackling the blaze at the derelict ­Broomloan Road Primary School in Ibrox, during which the roof collapsed.

During his hospital rounds,'Fergie' met Rebecca Young and her twin boys Elliot and Sandy, plus nurses to see how they support new families. He was taking part in an initiative which coincides with the upcoming Glasgow 2014 games.

Unicef is promoting a baby friendly initiative across all Commonwealth nations, which aims to improve health and reduce disease, poverty and exploitation among children.

He also chatted to Kimberley Black, who has spent the last week in the hospital's neonatal unit with her 12-day-old son Jason.

Sir Alex said: "I've been privileged to see the life-changing work that Unicef does to help children around the world, but I wasn't fully aware of the vital work that is done here in Glasgow and across the UK.

"As a father and grandfather, I value strong family relationships. Seeing this level of expertise at this hospital emphasises to me how important it is for mothers to have the vital support they need to help nurture their children and give them the best start in life."

During the incident at Broomloan Primary, five fire appliances from Govan, Polmadie, Maryhill and Cowcaddens attended after arriving to find the building well alight shortly after 2.30pm.

Sir Alex has fond ­memories of the school. He recently said in an interview he keeps the belt with which he was beaten by his favourite teacher, Elizabeth Thomson, who inspired him to greatness.

He added: "My grand­children are terrified of it. Six from that belt and you were in absolute agony."