Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones both believe Sir Alex Ferguson’s fighting spirit will help him recover from brain surgery.
The 76-year-old former Manchester United manager remains in intensive care in a Salford hospital after an emergency operation on a brain haemorrhage on Saturday.
Ferguson gave Giggs his debut as a 17-year-old in 1991 and he played a part in all of the Scot’s 13 Premier League title victories.
“Now is the time to pray and hope he can make a full recovery,” Giggs told BBC Wales. “He has been the biggest influence in my career, both on and off the pitch.
“I know the operation has been a success – but he is a fighter and that is what makes me think that he will be able to make a recovery.”
Current United defender Jones agreed, saying: “I know his character. I know he has that fight in him. Hopefully he’ll recover well.”
Jones is one of a handful of players currently at United who were signed by Ferguson, having joined from Blackburn in 2011, and the England international revealed how news of his former manager’s ill health hit him hard.
“(I am) just devastated, absolutely devastated,” Jones said.
“He is such a legend in my eyes. He is the one who brought me to the club and gave me that opportunity to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“He’s taken me under his wing like a father and it was shocking.”
Current top-flight managers at United’s rival clubs such as Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp all had messages of support for Ferguson over the weekend.
And on Sunday, after some Manchester City fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate their Premier League title success, two supporters held up a sign which read: “Football aside get well Fergie”.
Jones added: “He has got all his family and friends around him, the support from all the players and staff at Man United and football around the world.
“When something like that does happen it’s nice that the football world comes together and shows support and we are all rooting for him. I’m sure he will be fine.”
Jones’ team-mate Juan Mata dedicated his weekly blog post to Ferguson.
“This blog’s entry is going to be particularly short, if you don’t mind,” wrote Mata, signed by Ferguson’s replacement David Moyes.
“This Saturday, all of us were overwhelmed by the news about Sir Alex Ferguson’s health condition. This circumstance has had a huge impact on Manchester United, as you can imagine.
“All of us are united right now, wishing Sir Alex a speedy recovery. He has been a unique and fundamental figure in the football world over the last few decades.
“I’ve never been coached by him, unfortunately, yet I know well his incomparable legacy on this club, that winning mentality and fighting gen(e) that we must honour in the last three games of the season, especially in the FA Cup final.
“To achieve that, we are going to work hard while we eagerly await good news about Sir Alex’s recovery.”