Sir Alex Ferguson is revered by those who support Manchester United and with good reason - he was the architect of the most successful period in the club's history.
The fearsome Scot established the Red Devils as a force to be reckoned with, ensuring that Premier League and Champions League titles adorn the trophy cabinet.
Goal takes a look back at Ferguson's career, including his early success, right up to his retirement in 2013.
While he is known the world over for his exploits in the Old Trafford dugout, Ferguson enjoyed a long career as a professional footballer, spending the entirety of it in his native Scotland.
He was a striker and made a breakthrough at Queens Park at the tender age of 16, but did not remain at the club for long as he joined St Johnstone in 1960. While there, he helped the club to the Scottish Second Division title in 1963.
Ferguson moved to Dunfermline in 1964 and he enjoyed a particularly fruitful campaign with the club in 1965-66, scoring 31 league goals, which saw him end the season as the joint-top scorer (along with Celtic's Joe McBride).
Rangers signed Ferguson in 1967 for £65,000 and he spent two fruitless seasons at Ibrox before moving to Falkirk, where he won the Scottish Second Division and also began his first forays into the world of coaching, while still playing. After four years at Brockville Park, he moved to Ayr United, where he concluded his playing days, retiring in 1974.
Early managerial career
Ferguson cut his managerial teeth in Scotland's lower leagues and his first foray came at East Sterlingshire in 1974, when he was just 32. However, he didn't stay at the club long and accepted an offer from St Mirren later that year.
He took over a club at the lower end of what was then known as the Scottish Second Division and led them to Scottish First Division (now Scottish Championship) glory in 1977. It was Ferguson's first title as a manager and he achieved it at the age of 35. Unfortunately, his time in Paisley ended in acrimony and he was sacked by the club in 1978.
|Scottish Premiership||1979-80, 1983-84, 1984-85|
|Scottish Cup||1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, 1985-86|
|Scottish League Cup||1985-86|
|Cup Winners' Cup||1982-83|
|UEFA Super Cup||1983|
Having established a reputation in Scottish football as a no-nonsense manager with an eye for talent, Ferguson was soon appointed to a position at a top-tier club. Aberdeen had been keen on Ferguson for a while and they eventually got their man in 1978, replacing Billy McNeill, who left to join Celtic.
While he inherited a strong squad from McNeill, Ferguson could not steer the team to success in his first season at the helm of the Pittodrie club, but it did not take him long to make his mark. The season prior to his appointment Aberdeen had finished second in the league, but Ferguson only managed a fourth-place finish in his first term. But things quickly improved under his stewardship and the following season he clinched the title, pipping Celtic by a point.
The 1980 league title was just Aberdeen's second in their entire history and, while they dropped to second in the following two seasons, then to third in 1983, Ferguson delivered the club their third and fourth league trophies in 1984 and 1985.
As well as turning the Dons into a force domestically, Ferguson brought European glory to the club for the first and, to this day, only time. The Glasgow native's side won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1983, beating Bayern Munich en route to the final, where they overcame Real Madrid and they also won the UEFA Super Cup that year, defeating Hamburg.
In all, Ferguson won three league titles, four Scottish Cups, one Scottish League Cup, the Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Super Cup during his eight-year reign at Aberdeen, which came to an end mid-way through the 1986-87 season.
Alex Ferguson's time as Scotland manager
Ferguson's managerial CV also includes international experience and he was at the helm of the Scotland national team for the 1986 World Cup, albeit in tragic circumstances. Still managing Aberdeen, he joined Jock Stein's backroom staff during qualification for the World Cup in Mexico, but ended up taking the reins on an interim basis following Stein's sudden death in September 1985.
Ferguson helped the Scots qualify for the tournament, but they crashed out at the group stage after losing to Denmark and West Germany before mustering a draw against Uruguay. He stepped down from the position after elimination.
|Premier League||1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2012-13|
|FA Cup||1989-90, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1998-99, 2003-04|
|League Cup||1991-92, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10|
|Community Shield||1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011|
|Champions League||1998-99, 2007-08|
|Cup Winners' Cup||1990-91|
|UEFA Super Cup||1991|
|FIFA Club World Cup||2008|
As he presided over a remarkable rise in fortunes at Pittodrie, Ferguson became increasingly well regarded south of the border and he was reportedly a candidate for top English clubs such as Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal during the late 1980s. He was eventually appointed as Manchester United manager in November 1986, succeeding Ron Atkinson.
It may be difficult to imagine for those from a younger generation, but the Red Devils were at a low ebb when Ferguson arrived and it took the Scot a number of seasons to secure any degree of success. Ferguson steered the floundering side to an 11th-place finish in his first campaign and while they managed to finish second in 1988 and 1992, United remained an inconsistent mid-table club until the early 1990s, when the famous period of dominance began.
Interestingly, that period might never have been as Ferguson came perilously close to losing his job in January 1990. With the club struggling in the league, there were calls from the fans for United to dismiss the Scottish manager and it is believed that the outcome of an FA Cup third-round match against Nottingham Forest would be the catalyst for change. Luckily for Ferguson, Mark Robins scored to give the Red Devils a 1-0 win.
"Nobody will ever know [what might have happened] and I am pleased it never came to that and he was able to fulfil his destiny," Robins told the BBC in 2006. "He has made an outstanding contribution to football and to United. To have lost him there and for him not to go on to fulfil what he has done and achieved would have been a tragedy."
Ferguson's first piece of silverware as United boss came four years into his tenure in 1990, when the club won the FA Cup. Things were looking up and, in 1991, just as he had done with Aberdeen nearly a decade earlier, Ferguson also won the Cup Winners Cup, beating Barcelona in the final, then won the UEFA Super Cup against Red Star Belgrade.
The first league title eventually came in 1993, with United finishing the season 10 points ahead of second-placed Aston Villa. That season heralded the dawn of a new era at Old Trafford and the club would go on to win a further 12 titles under Ferguson's stewardship, becoming the dominant force in English football in the 1990s and 2000s.
The crowning achievement of the Scot's tenure at the helm - reflected in the fact that he was subsequently knighted - came in 1999 when United conquered the continent and won a historic treble of trophies: the Premier League, FA Cup and - for the first time in his career - Champions League. Ferguson would go on to win the Champions League again in 2007-08, beating Chelsea on penalties in the final.
Man United's reign at the summit of English football lasted for the rest of Ferguson's time as manager, only interrupted on a few occasions by Kenny Dalglish's Blackburn Rovers, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal (three times), the Chelsea of Jose Mourinho (twice) then Carlo Ancelotti, and Roberto Mancini's Man City.
By the time of his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season, after 25 years as manager of United, Ferguson had amassed 38 trophies, including a record 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues.
Sir Alex Ferguson records
His incredible success with Manchester United has ensured that Ferguson takes his place among the pantheon of the world's greatest football managers.
With 13 Premier League titles he is comfortably the most successful manager in the history of the English top flight. Indeed, in a demonstration of how detached he is from his peers, Bob Paisley and George Ramsey, who follow Ferguson, won the top division six times each, while Matt Busby won it five times.
Ferguson's status also extends to a continental plane, where he can claim to be the most successful manager in Europe, with seven titles to his name. He shares that distinction with Carlo Ancelotti and Giovanni Trapattoni, who also have seven European titles each.
He has won four LMA Manager of the Year awards, making him the most successul recipient, ahead of David Moyes and Arsene Wenger. Furthermore, Ferguson collected the Premier League Manager of the Month award 27 times, putting him 12 ahead of Wenger.
He is also the only manager to replicate his success in both Scotland and England, being the only man to win the league and the only man to win the double either side of the border.
Interestingly, too, his 1985 Scottish title win remains the last time a team other than Celtic or Rangers won the league.
Key players signed by Sir Alex Ferguson
Key to Ferguson's success over the course of his managerial career was his ability to identify and recruit talented players who could help him and the club to fulfil their goals. Having spent over two decades at Old Trafford, the Scot oversaw a number of periods of evolution and renewal, bringing some of the best players in the world through Manchester.
When he first arrived at United, Ferguson inherited a squad that contained talented players such as Bryan Robson and Paul McGrath, but they were not reaching the heights expected. In those early years, Ferguson added a formidable spine to the team, signing Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and Brian McClair, as well as Mark Hughes, who returned to the club from Barcelona. Not only were those players talented, they possessed a winning mentality, which served the club well during the first transition period.
Soon after, Ferguson recruited the likes of Paul Ince and Eric Cantona, while the acquisition of Roy Keane from Nottingham Forest added a direct replacement for the ageing Robson. In Peter Schmeichel, Ferguson added arguably the best goalkeeper in the world to his ranks and the Dane manned the nets for nearly a decade.
When Hughes and McClair moved on, they were replaced by Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, who became one of the most potent strike partnerships in the world. Jaap Stam, who joined from PSV for a club record fee in 1998, was another key signing.
Those recruits were complemented by the emerging 'Class of '92' - which included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Gary Neville - and it made for a neat cocktail of success throughout the 1990s into the early 2000s.
Despite enjoying sustained success, Ferguson always had an eye on the future and inevitably made efforts to add players of a high calibre to his squads. World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez joined in 2000, with Ruud van Nistelrooy arriving the year later, providing a new dynamic in attack.
Perhaps one of the most significant signings made by Ferguson was the 2003 acquisition of a teenager from Sporting Lisbon called Cristiano Ronaldo. Another teen followed Ronaldo to Old Trafford the following season, namely Wayne Rooney, and they would go on to become iconic players for the club.
Rio Ferdinand joined United from Leeds in 2002 and a few years later he struck up an impressive partnership with Nemanja Vidic, who arrived at the club at the same time as Patrice Evra. Among the members of United's 2008 Champions League winning side were Carlos Tevez and Edwin van der Sar.
Towards the end of his time as manager, Ferguson's most inspired signings include Dutch striker Robin van Persie, who left rivals Arsenal to work with the Scot in 2012, and goalkeeper David de Gea, who continues to earn plaudits from across the world for his consistently impressive displays for the club.