Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute to his great friend Sir Bobby Robson, who died on Friday morning...
"Bobby’s passing is a very sad loss to the game. He was a dear friend of mine and a friend to many people in football. We owe him a great sense of gratitude for the life he’s spent in the game - no-one in my time has shown such passion and love for football than Bobby did. He used to phone me before every big game to wish me all the best, I remember him calling on the afternoon of the Champions League final in ’99 to say good luck. No matter how busy he was, he always took the time to think of others which was fantastic. That was a very special part of Bobby.
"My first contact with him came in 1981 when Aberdeen played Ipswich in the UEFA Cup. He’d won it [with Ipswich] the previous season and had a great team at the time. We managed to beat them at Pittodrie and I’ll always remember him coming into our dressing room after the game, standing in the middle and saying to all the players, ‘You’ll win this cup – anyone that beats Ipswich Town will win it!’ It was a fantastic moment.
"I always followed his career as a manager and looked out for the results of the teams he was managing at the time, from Sporting Lisbon to Barcelona to PSV. He was simply a true legend across the world. After he finished his spell as England manager he didn’t wait to see the daisies come up, he went out into Europe because he knew he had a life to live and a big contribution to make. You need something special in you to be able to say to yourself, 'I'm going to up roots and start anew in another country', but he had that. There are very, very few English managers who have ever done that and that’s what sets him apart.
"We’ve been away for two weeks on tour, but I was due to go and see him on Monday with Sir Bobby Charlton. The two of us attended his charity dinner last October and he was so courageous in the way he fought his illness.
Everyone at Manchester United, the players, the staff and the fans, appreciate people who devote themselves to football and who are passionate about the game in the right way, and for that reason Bobby’s death