Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Labour leads Sir Alex tributes

Manchester United chief executive David Gill said he has had 'the tremendous pleasure of working very closely' with Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson's shock retirement on the day of the State Opening of Parliament has been received with glee by Labour, who hailed him for overshadowing the Government.

The legendary Manchester United boss, born into a family of shipyard workers in the Govan area of Glasgow, has in the past been named as one of Labour's biggest donors. With the Queen's Speech expected to include tough measures on immigration, some Labour figures suggested the timing of the 71-year-old's bombshell announcement was no coincidence.

Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted that Ferguson was a "Proud man. Great manager. Staunch Labour Party supporter", adding that he "will never be forgotten".

David Cameron, who supports Aston Villa, also paid tribute by tweeting: "Sir Alex Ferguson's achievement at #MUFC has been exceptional. Hopefully his retirement will make life a little easier for my team #AVFC".

Making political capital out of the moment, former Labour cabinet member Peter Hain bragged: "Nice timing Alex Ferguson retirement obliterates Govt on Queen Speech he's been #Labour always". And former deputy prime minister John Prescott tweeted the trending hashtag #thankyousiralex "for helping the reds in football and politics. Legend".

Burnley fan and former New Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell said: "Best manager of all time, great man, bowing out in style, with another trophy on the shelf #fergieretires".

Meanwhile, United's legion of celebrity fans also paid tribute to a man who has led their club to the top of the English and European game in a career spanning 26 years. Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall tweeted: "So, the end of an era. Sir Alex Ferguson was, and will remain~ MAGNIFICENT!! The greatest football manager in the history of the game."

Actor and United fan Dominic Monaghan, known for his roles in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and hit series Lost, tweeted: "Absolute. SHOCK. Reeling from the #fergieretires #fergie news. Most successful football manager of all time. The legend. United march on."

Manchester United chief executive David Gill hailed working with retiring manager Sir Alex Ferguson as the "greatest experience" of his working life. Gill said: "I've had the tremendous pleasure of working very closely with Alex for 16 unforgettable years - through the treble, the double, countless trophy wins and numerous signings. We knew that his retirement would come one day and we both have been planning for it by ensuring the quality of the squad and club structures are in first-class condition.

Joel Glazer, joint chairman of the Manchester United board with brother Avie, pinpointed the 2008 Champions League final penalty shoot-out success over Chelsea as a highlight among the many memories. He said: "Alex has proven time and time again what a fantastic manager he is but he's also a wonderful person. His determination to succeed and dedication to the club have been truly remarkable. I will always cherish the wonderful memories he has given us, like that magical night in Moscow."

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