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Ferguson career eulogised by press

  • 9 May 2013
  • From the section UK
Manchester United"s manager Alex Ferguson celebrates after his team clinched the English Premier League soccer title with a win against Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester. northern England, April 22, 2013.
Image caption Sir Alex Ferguson: World media heap praise on the "legend" of modern football

Back pages across the world are littered with superlatives on Thursday as the global press reflects on the career of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who has announced his retirement at the end of this season.

Ferguson will bow out from his post having secured the club an unprecedented 20th league title, 13 of which came about under his stewardship.

Here, BBC Monitoring provides a snapshot of world press reaction to a career that has helped to shape world football.

Beast of the bench

European headlines reflect the combination of respect and fear Sir Alex inspired. Germany's Kicker calls him a "legend", France's Sport 24 "irreplaceable", while Russian website Lenta says: "'The Devil' has done its business."

Spain's El Mundo calls him a "beast of the bench", noting the 71-year-old's decision to retire came about not through a "lack of desire, but to be with his family after a hip operation, which he will soon undergo".

Meanwhile, El Pais calls him a "fascinating personality", recounting his early years as a trade unionist in Clyde. The paper also notes the coach's relationship with his players, which ranged from "paternal, as with Cristiano Ronaldo when he arrived from Sporting Lisbon aged 18, or violent". Ferguson kicked a football boot at David Beckham's face during a dressing down of his team in 2003.

French economist Bastien Drut compares Ferguson to Apple founder Steve Jobs, in recognition of the way the Scot turned Manchester United into a global brand. He concludes Ferguson's departure might have a "negative influence" on the club's financial state and hamper its ability to pay off debts.

Benedetto Sacca, in Italy's Il Messaggero, says: "Ferguson is - and will remain - a football legend and a champion of the bench as well as the icon of Manchester Utd… he had the good fortune (and merit) to be able to have the best players on the scene: Cantona, Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney and Van Persie among others."

Enrico Sisti, in Rome's La Repubblica, says: "Sir Alex was an anomaly of football. In the world of everything-at-once, he remained."

In the influential sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, Alessandro De Calo writes that Ferguson had "the ability to see before and better than others the potential of many young talents". "He knew how to choose them... he transformed Manchester United into a global giant," he adds.

Highlander: There can be only one

Russia's Sport Express says: "It's difficult to imagine - after all, even adults who are well into their 30s have never seen Man Utd without Sir Alex. But the wave of tributes and nostalgia will subside, and they will be followed by days of grey."

Russian sport website Championat.com says: "Life without Ferguson is a leap into the unknown, a spacewalk. Everyone knew that sooner or later he would go, but there were few who believed that they would see it with their own eyes. After all, he is the eternal Scot, as if he had emerged from the series Highlander."

Prominent Russian football coach Valeriy Gazzayev told Izvestiya on Wednesday: "His departure as the club's coach is a huge loss for all of world football. He was always a unique specialist who was able to demonstrate the best game and results throughout his career."

"Slept little and won loads"

South Africa's Star newspaper says retirement will allow Sir Alex to indulge his "varied interests outside the sport" particularly horse-racing - a pursuit the paper says appears at odds with his socialist, working-class background.

Sudan's Al-Ra'y al-Amm pays tribute to Ferguson's renowned business savvy, saying: "Alex Ferguson's super deals far outshine any failed contracts."

The Times of India says: "As much as the trophies he won, it was his stellar role in making United a global brand - valued at $3bn [£2bn] - synonymous with commercial and footballing success that would count as his greatest legacy. With fans spread from [Calcutta] to Colorado, United became the most identifiable brand in the world under Ferguson's stewardship."

Mumbai's DNA newspaper portrayed Ferguson as a workaholic feared by his rivals: "Some people will sigh with relief. Most will reflect admiringly on a remarkable character. All that drive, all that competitiveness, all those early starts to get on with plotting campaigns and all those late nights to keep on plotting triumphant campaigns... Ferguson slept little and won loads. Year after year, season after season."

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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