By Alex Labidou
Tim Howard insists that his experience under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United was "priceless" and made him a better goalkeeper.
The American enjoyed mixed success in three years at Old Trafford before moving on to Everton, where he has since established himself as one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the Premier League, but he is adamant that, despite having to look elsewhere for regular games, the Scot's guidance did wonders for him.
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"I am a better person and a better goalkeeper because I spent three years there under some amazing tutelage from Alex Ferguson and some of the coaches and other players. I learned so much that I can't learn anywhere else and I apply them to my career.
"My time there with him was pretty much like every other player ... he's amazing as a man-manager. He treats everyone the same. He holds everyone to the same high standards."
Howard admits that he was shocked to hear of Ferguson's imminent retirement but believes that the veteran's enduring success means that there would never have been a good time to walk away.
"Everyone was shocked because, up until then, everything was quiet and there was no big build-up but I'm not that surprised," he added. "He's had so many years of success and he's getting older.
"For a guy who's had that much success, it's never a good time to bow out. The next success is always around the corner, so there's never a good time or an easy time."