Sir Alex Ferguson has received a very special 25th anniversary tribute from his grateful employers at Manchester United - with Old Trafford's biggest stand being renamed in his honour.
The North Stand is now known as the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, after a new sign was unveiled just before kick-off against Sunderland. It's the first time in the 101-year history of Old Trafford that a stand has been named after an individual. In addition, the renowned sculptor Philip Jackson has been commissioned to create a statue of the manager. This will be erected outside the stand's entrance, hopefully in August 2012.
In a club statement, United chief executive David Gill said: "To be at a club of our standing for so long is truly remarkable. In that time, Sir Alex has established himself as the most successful manager in British football history, winning countless trophies and creating numerous sides admired around the world for their flair and ability. Sir Alex's contribution to United has been immense and the magnificent stadium we have here at Old Trafford is a testament to his ability and success.
The Board felt it right to take this unique step, as well as to commission Philip Jackson to create a statue to go alongside his other great pieces here of Sir Matt and the United Trinity. These tributes are made with the grateful thanks of the owners, board, staff, players and fans of Manchester United, for the great pleasure Sir Alex has brought us all over a quarter of a century."
Sir Alex saw his name on the former North Stand for the first time after walking through a guard of honour formed by both teams. Talking on the stadium PA system, he remarked how proud he felt to "work for the greatest football club in the world" and to have managed "some of the greatest footballers we've ever seen in this country."