Alex Ferguson Has Paid Tribute to Arsene Wenger
Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he is ‘proud to have been a rival, colleague and friend’ to Arsene Wenger after the Arsenal boss announced he will step down at the end of the season after 22 years.
Ferguson and Wenger enjoyed the most enthralling and fierce rivalry in Premier League history in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with both Arsenal and Manchester United battling it out for the Premier League title year after year.
The rivalry dwindled after Arsenal moved to the Emirates, with United maintaining their dominance in English football while Wenger endured a barren run in north London.
But speaking after Wenger‘s announcement to step down at Arsenal, the former Scottish manager paid a touching tribute to his old foe, who has won three Premier League titles and a record-breaking seven FA Cups.
‘I am really happy for Arsene Wenger,’ Ferguson said.
‘I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. 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.
‘I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves.
‘He is, without doubt, one of the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man.’
In a separate statement released by the League Managers’ Association, of which Ferguson is a committee member, he added: ‘It’s been an incredible journey for Arsene, during which he has maintained the highest levels of professionalism throughout.
‘He has been in charge of one of Britain’s greatest football clubs for over two decades and has produced some fantastic teams. His longevity shows that continuity can bring great success.
‘His impact on English football and the game worldwide has been immense and I’m sure he will continue to have an impact in the years to come.’
LMA chairman and former Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson added: ‘Arsene Wenger is without question one of the most significant managers to have graced the game of professional football here in England.
‘From his arrival at Arsenal, it was patently clear that here was someone with tremendous foresight, fortitude and imagination.
‘A man of high principles, he was never prepared to compromise his beliefs and, in so doing, he enhanced the history and reputation of one of the world’s great clubs.’
Photos: Getty Images and PA Images