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Old adversary Sir Alex full of praise for fierce rival


By Robert Jones

Sir Alex Ferguson has paid tribute to his former rival Arsene Wenger as the Frenchman announced his departure from Arsenal.

Wenger's arrival was the first great challenge to the dominance of Ferguson's Manchester United in the Premier League era and they shared many battles that now regularly feature among lists of the competition's best-ever games.

But with Ferguson having bowed out in 2013, he revealed how delighted he was for his former foe to be finally stepping away.

"I am really happy for Arsene Wenger," Ferguson said. "I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that he has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves.

"He is, without doubt, one of the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man."

The former United manager's words were echoed by the current boss at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho.

He had previously labelled Wenger a "voyeur" and a "specialist in failure", but he believes those previous remarks are now irrelevant given the mutual respect between "football people".

"It's not about regretting," the United manager said. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football."

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said: "He was, and is still, an influencer in football. He has a fantastic career, an outstanding personality and a really big player in the business where usually the thing changes overnight and he was there for so long."

The current Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, added: "Arsene is one of the managers who has had great influence in football. In every moment, he tried to play good and creative and offensive football. This is also a great achievement.."

Finally, Pep Guardiola, the recently-crowned Premier League champion, said: "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football."

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