Former Fifa Vice-President Jim Boyce has sent his best wishes to old colleague Sepp Blatter as he recovers from illness.
The ex-Fifa president spent a week in an induced coma after having heart surgery last month.
In a statement Mr Blatter's family said the 84-year-old, who also tested positive for Covid-19 late last year, was well enough only this week to be moved out of intensive care at the hospital in Switzerland.
Mr Boyce, a former Irish FA president, served as Mr Blatter's vice-president at Fifa, world football's governing body, between 2010 and 2015, and has known him for nearly 30 years.
The Belfast man said his thoughts were with Mr Blatter's family and he hoped he made a quick recovery.
"I have known Sepp Blatter since becoming involved with the IFA in 1993 and obviously during my time as vice-president of Fifa," Mr Boyce said.
"Personally, while Sepp Blatter received a lot of adverse publicity, he always treated me with great respect.
"My best wishes go to his family circle and I hope that he makes a full recovery from his illness."
Mr Blatter resigned as Fifa president under a cloud in 2015 amid allegations of corruption.
Despite the controversy, Mr Boyce said he never had a problem with Mr Blatter and the two got on well.
The former Cliftonville chairman warmly remembered when Mr Blatter allowed the World Cup to visit Northern Ireland for the first time in 2015.
The famous trophy arrived in Belfast in April that year as part of a tie-in with the movie premiere of 'Soccer for Socrates', detailing Northern Ireland's exploits at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
At the event a video message from Mr Blatter paying tribute to Mr Boyce was played. He called his outgoing vice-president "an inspiration" and someone who had "set a shining example".
"When I asked Sepp Blatter was it possible for the World Cup to come to Northern Ireland for the first time ever he immediately gave permission," Mr Boyce recalled.
"It let a lot of children have the opportunity to see the World Cup coming to Belfast."
Mr Blatter's daughter Corinne Blatter Andenmatten told Swiss media "the doctors are satisfied with his condition. But there's still a long way to go". She added: It was the hardest and saddest Christmas of my life."
Asked about the stress of facing multiple legal cases and interviews with prosecutors, Ms Blatter Andenmatten said "you can imagine that he has been under great pressure".
She spoke in detail about Mr Blatter's health for the first time ahead of a scheduled meeting next week in one of several civil and criminal cases between Fifa and its president from 1998 to 2015. Mr Blatter had seemed to overcome his Covid-19 infection and expected his heart surgery to be routine.
Mr Blatter has been under criminal investigation by Swiss federal prosecutors since 2015, and has not yet been told that Fifa filed a further criminal complaint against him last month.
The latest case relates to Fifa financing the World Football Museum in Zurich.