Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he is proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to Arsene Wenger.
The 76-year-old also paid a heartfelt tribute to Wenger, his longtime adversary at Arsenal whom he described as a ‘great man’.
He said this during an interview with ManUtd.com on Friday, hours after the 68-year-old Frenchman announced that he was stepping down at the end of the season, having managed the North London side for 22 years.
“I am really happy for Arsene Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal,” Ferguson said. “It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that he has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves.”
“In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal,” he added.
The former Red Devils coach said he was pleased that Wenger made the announcement at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves.
He noted further that the Arsenal boss is, without doubt, one of the greatest managers in the history of the English Premier League.
Ferguson and Wenger oversaw some titanic battles between 1996 and 2013, including one of the greatest games in FA Cup history – the 1999 semi-final replay at Villa Park.
United’s next outing at Old Trafford is against Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday, April 29 – the 60th time Wenger will have faced the Reds, winning 18 games, drawing 15 and losing 26.