"A rival, a colleague and a friend": Ferguson pays tribute to Wenger

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has paid a heartfelt tribute to his old adversary at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger.

The two bosses 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. Wenger announced on Friday morning that he is stepping down at the end of the season, after 22 years in the job.

"I am really happy for Arsene Wenger," Sir Alex told ManUtd.com. "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."

United's next outing at Old Trafford is against Wenger's Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday 29 April - the 60th time the Frenchman will have faced the Reds, winning 18 games, drawing 15 and losing 26.

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