Alex Ferguson Retires

To all the shjps at sea, my first experience with soccer was meeting Pelé at the airport and following him for two weeks as he attempted to make soccer a main street sport in the United States.

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

“London (CNN) — English soccer’s most successful manager — Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson — is retiring at the end of the season after more than a quarter of a century at the helm, the club announced Wednesday.

The 71-year-old Scot has managed the English club, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and loved by millions of fans around the world, from Manchester to Manila and Montreal, since 1986.

Everton manager David Moyes is the bookmakers’ favorite to succeed his compatriot, and the 50-year-old will be confirmed as the next United boss on Thursday according to widespread British media reports.

During his 26 years in charge, Ferguson — a supporter of Britain’s Labour Party who’s renowned for dressing down players with the “hairdryer treatment” — has won more than 30 trophies, including 13 league championships.

Many fans took to Twitter to voice their appreciation, using the handle #thankyousiralex. He became Sir Alex when knighted by the queen more than a decade ago for his services to the game.

‘Thank you for everything,’ say Manchester United fans

As well as dominating on the pitch, Ferguson has helped build the century-old soccer club into a huge business operation whose progress is followed on stock exchanges around the world.

Its shares dipped nearly 5% in early trading Wednesday.

The Old Trafford club is owned by the American Glazer family, who oversaw the club’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange last August.

For the 2011-2012 season, United increased revenues by £14.2 million to £117.6 million ($182.4), the highest of any club in the Premier League.

But it lost the top spot as the world’s most valuable sports franchise in this year’s Forbes list to Spanish soccer club Real Madrid. Forbes valued Manchester United at $3.17 billion, still ahead of Barcelona, another Spanish soccer club, and two U.S. outfits, the New York Yankees in Major League Baseball and the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.

Ferguson will bow out after the club’s last game of the season, an away match against West Bromwich Albion, on May 19, according to a statement from Manchester United.”

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