Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed his retirement at the end of the current Premier League campaign. The club announced the news on their official website and Twitter feed on Wednesday morning after fevered speculation across the media.
MU Spokesperson @MU_Spokesperson
Sir Alex Ferguson retires. #thankyousiralex2013-5-8 08:17:40
"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about," he said (via BBC Sport). "It is the right time."
The 71-year-old has been in charge at Old Trafford since 1986 and has guided the club to unprecedented success, including two Champions League titles, 13 Premier League triumphs, five FA Cup wins and four League Cups.
Ferguson will now become a director on the Old Trafford board and will also act as a club ambassador.
The manager discussed the current quality of the club and how it affected his decision (via BBC Sport):
It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.
The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.
Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford as replacement for Ron Atkinson in 1986 from Aberdeen but found success hard to come by in his early years.
The Glaswegian won his first trophy for the club in 1990, when he lifted the FA Cup after a replay against Crystal Palace.
But he went on to win the European Cup Winners' Cup the following season before ending a 26-year wait for the English league championship in 1993.
Ferguson won his first league and FA Cup double in 1994 and completed a remarkable treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup in 1999.
He broke Liverpool's record of 18 league titles in 2011 when United claimed their 19th championship.
Ferguson added a 20th title this season before announcing his decision to step down at the end of the current season.