Sir Alex Ferguson revealed his pride after a statue of the most successful manager in United’s history was unveiled outside the Old Trafford stand named after him on Friday.
Ferguson’s wife, Lady Cathy – who he refers to as ‘the boss’ – revealed the bronze sculpture following a ceremony that paid tribute to his 26 glorious years at United.
Around 2,500 fans braved the wet Manchester weather to attend the event, along with Sir Alex’s family, his current squad and dozens of his former players, including Eric Cantona, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Peter Schmeichel, Edwin van der Sar and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
“It’s a really proud moment for me,” Sir Alex said, before joking: “Normally people die before they have a statue. I’m outliving death!
“The boss [Lady Cathy] is a fantastic person. Someone has to control me and she’s the only one who can. She has promised that every Saturday morning she’s going to come down and bow to the statue!”
Television presenter and Reds fan Eamonn Holmes hosted proceedings and introduced video messages from the likes of David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sepp Blatter.
“Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Today is Thanksgiving Day at Old Trafford,” proclaimed Holmes.
The statue’s sculptor, Philip Jackson, who was also responsible for the United Trinity and Sir Matt Busby statues at the stadium, spoke briefly about his latest project.
“I’ve tried to portray him as a man of great determination and as a thinking man, but also with humour, which he has in abundance, so there’s just a slight smile in the corner of his mouth. That’s really what I wanted to portray,” Jackson said.
United’s chief executive David Gill added his own words of praise, saying: “He’s been the definition of a Manchester United manager.
“It’s a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside him. Everyone knows the success Alex has achieved in the last 26 years.
“But for me, as a fan, a colleague and a friend, the greatest thing he has brought back to this club is respect. Respect for the staff, respect for the heritage and history of the club and respect for the Manchester United way.
“This magnificent work by Philip Jackson will serve as a reminder – long after those of us who can tell the tales have gone – of what a fantastic influence Alex has been on this great club.”
After the unveiling of the statue and a plaque beneath it, Sir Alex’s invited guests entered the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand to view a new collection of artwork celebrating his quarter-century at the helm.