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Beckham: He was a father figure and my best boss

David Beckham paid tribute to his "father figure" Alex Ferguson and hailed him as the greatest manager in football after the Manchester United boss announced his retirement.

Beckham, now at Paris St-Germain, said Ferguson's protective influence had been vital in his early career.

The former England captain said: "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 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.

"Thank you boss and enjoy the rest!"

Denis Irwin, former Manchester United and Ireland full-back, said: "It's a sad day for Manchester United. It's a day we should celebrate what he's done for Manchester United. It was always going to come as a shock. Without doubt the best manager that's ever lived."


Edwin van der Sar, former Manchester United goalkeeper, said on Twitter: "Was coming for some time now but still a shock that hasn't sunk in yet!! Great manager and remarkable person!"

Barcelona's Sergio Busquets said at a news conference: "An historic coach is leaving us, a coach who will always be remembered in the world of football.

"It's a loss both for United and for the football world. He is an example for clubs who want a coach to stay on for so many years, always able to compete and be among the best."

Meanwhile, Steve Bruce, Hull City manager and former Manchester United defender, said: "We're shocked, nobody saw it coming.

"It wouldn't surprise me if it's David (Moyes as next manager) and we wish him well. Whoever takes over ... he's going to be some act to follow.

"It doesn't seem quite right that Fergie won't be in charge any more.

"I don't think the next manager will do 27 years."