- Premier League
Beckham hails 'greatest' Ferguson, Rio thanks boss
David Beckham has described Sir Alex Ferguson as the "greatest and best manager" he has played under, while Rio Ferdinand has become one of the first of the current playing staff to react to news of the Scot's retirement.
Beckham, 38, was a product of Manchester United's youth academy and went on to make 265 appearances for the club between 1993 and 2003. In his time at Old Trafford, he won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League.
He eventually left the club after a gradual deterioration of his relationship with Ferguson, something which cooled over time and has since returned to face United on numerous occasions as an opponent and for testimonials.
Beckham wrote on his official Facebook page: "I've just seen the news on Sir Alex. As I have said many times before the boss wasn't just the greatest and best manager I ever played under he was also a father figure to me from the moment I arrived at the club at the age of 11 until the day I left.
"Without him I would never have achieved what I have done in my career. He understood how important it was to play for your country and he knew how much it meant to me.
"After '98 without the manager I would have found it virtually impossible to cope with the attention I was getting on and off the field and for this I will always be grateful to him for his support and protection.
"I am truly honoured to have been guided by the greatest manager in football and to have had the career that I had under him. Thank you boss and enjoy the rest!"
Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand became the first member of United's first team squad to tweet about Ferguson's departure when he said: "The boss' work ethic, his desire to win + to make us better players were unrivalled. Thanks boss."