Published on 23 Nov 2012 Sections ,

Alex Ferguson honoured with Old Trafford statue

Sir Alex Ferguson has been immortalised at Old Trafford with his own nine-foot bronze statue outside the stadium.

Eric Cantona and Ruud van Nistelrooy were among notable guests who attended the unveiling ceremony marking Ferguson’s 26-year-reign as manager.

Manchester United commissioned award-winning sculptor Philip Jackson to create the statue, the sculptor says he wanted to portray Fergie as a man of “great determination” with a sense of humour.

Speaking at the ceremony Ferguson put his success down to his wife and a video message from David Beckham was played praising his old manager.

However, reaction to the statue wasn’t entirely positive with some Twitter users suggesting the statue’s pose wasn’t entirely appropriate, making Fergie look like a “rapper”.

Tributes poured in ahead of the ceremony and United’s entire first-team squad were present for the unveiling along with England coach and long-time Red Devil Gary Neville.

David Beckham, who rose to fame under Ferguson and played on six title-winning sides before leaving for Real Madrid in 2003 praised Ferguson’s passion for the team declaring him a “born winner”.

“He knows how to win games, how to handle pressure and how to look after his team and his players,” Beckham explained.

“Playing under him for the years that I did, well – he was like a father figure to me. I moved up from London to Manchester and he always said to me, ‘If you’ve got any worries, come and knock on my door – it’s always open’.”

“I was scared to go and knock on his door because of who he is but he always made me feel as if I was part of a family.”

Fergie facts

In 1993 Fergie won his first of 12 Premier League titles with Manchester United, he has overseen two Champions League and five FA Cup wins.

He became the third British manager to win the European Cup on more than one occasion in 2008, along with Brian Clough and Bob Paisley.

Fergie is the longest serving manager Manchester United's history having overtaken Sir Matt Busby's in December 2010.

He is also the longest serving of all the current League managers and won Manager of the Year most times in British football history.

Fergie is the only manager to perform the double across the border - topping the Premier League with Manchester United and the Scottish Premier Division with Aberdeen.

He is also the last manager to have won the Scottish championship with a non Old Firm team, in 1985 with Aberdeen.

Fergie is the only English football manager to have finished in the top three league places in 20 consecutive seasons, since the 1991/92 season.

He has taken home 48 trophies as a manager - affording him the title of most successful British football manager in history.

Born in Glasgow, Sir Alex started his playing career at Queen’s Park, aged 16, while working as a tool maker in a Clyde shipyard, where he became a trade union shop steward.

His performance on the pitch wasn’t drawing much attention until after a move to Perth team St Johnstone, where he bagged a hat-trick against his childhood heroes Glasgow Rangers.

He played for a string of teams including Dunfermline, Rangers, Falkirk and West Ayr United, where a knee injury finished his playing career. His management career started in East Stirlingshire, where he gained his reputation as an intimidating figure, he was later sacked by St Mirren and moved to Aberdeen.

When he took over at Manchester United in 1986 the club were 21st, second from the bottom, in the First Division. Ferguson went on to enjoy a meteoric rise securing 48 trophies as manager and repeatedly topping the league.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has had many clashes with Ferguson throughout his career but says there will be a “huge hole” when he finally leaves the club.

“I don’t remember anybody else being at the top level for such a long time,” Wenger stated.

“The club will be destabilised even if the guy who comes after him is top quality because the print of everything, the life of everything, revolves around Ferguson so much at Manchester United.

“He has to be immortal so the club doesn’t suffer! His commitment is always there, you never feel it is weakened.”

Last year the Old Trafford north stand was renamed in his honour to mark his 25th anniversary.

Fergie will join a long list of stars with statues outside UK football grounds including a bizarre statue of Michael Jackson outside Fulham FC.

Last year Thierry Henry, Herbert Chapman and Tony Adams were all honoured with sculptures outside London’s Emirates stadium.

A statue of Southampton legend Ted Bates angered fans when it was erected in 2007, as many claimed it was out of proportion and looked nothing like the late star. It was removed after just three days.