Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has described Sir Alex Ferguson as “a special person” after expressing his sadness at the Scot’s plight.
The former Manchester United boss remains in intensive care after undergoing surgery for a brain haemorrhage on Saturday evening, prompting a tide of support from the football world.
Speaking after his side’s 1-0 Premier League win over Liverpool on Sunday, Conte said: “My reaction when this type of situation happens, I’m very sad.
“I have had the possibility to know him and his wife and to understand that this is a special person. He’s not a normal person, a manager who won many titles in his career.
“I appreciate a lot the man and yesterday this news changed my day in a bad way. We hope to see him quickly and he has our best wishes to recover very soon.”
Earlier, Ferguson’s former captain at Old Trafford, Bryan Robson, had spoken of his shock at the news.
Robson told Sky Sports News: “It did come as a big surprise – and a shock.
“But from what I’ve heard, the operation went well, so hopefully the boss will have a full recovery – and I think that’s what everybody would really wish for.
“Hopefully they’ve found the bleed in the brain early enough and it doesn’t affect the boss in any way.”
Robson, who was an inspirational captain for both United and England before launching his own managerial career, credited Ferguson with extending his playing days.
He said: “Everybody respects him highly for what he did in the game. Everyone thinks it was all this ‘hairdryer’, but the boss enjoys a good time, really enjoys his racing and is good company when you’re around him.
“Ron Atkinson brought me to Manchester United, but the boss had a big influence on me – and that prolonged my career.”
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers hailed Ferguson as role model for younger managers.
He said: “It was a big shock to us all yesterday when we found that out, because he’s a man in great health.
“He is a real colossal manager who is a real inspiration to all of us young managers in his achievements and how he has always conducted himself.
“We are really hoping and praying he makes a good recovery and gets back to doing what he’s done all his life, which is inspire managers like myself.”
Such is Ferguson’s stature in the world game that Brazilian superstar Pele was moved to send his own message of support.
He wrote on Twitter: “I woke up to hear that Sir Alex Ferguson is in hospital. A @ManUtd man through and through. Get well soon, Sir Alex.’”
Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore also pointed to the 76-year-old’s international reputation, telling Sky Sports News: “Our primary thoughts are with Sir Alex’s
family. We are hoping he gets himself sorted and back in his normal fighting spirit.
“At the end of the day, we know how revered he is in football, beyond football, in UK culture and the world.
“I’m not surprised everyone has come out with these best wishes and we are all hoping for the best possible outcome for him.”
There were best wishes too from outside the sport with boxer Tony Bellew adding his thoughts following his heavyweight rematch victory over David Haye on Saturday night.
He tweeted: “Thoughts are with the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson right now. Hearing he’s in hospital so hope he’s ok. The greatest manager I’ve ever seen. #GetWellSirAlex.”