(Reuters) - David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo were among those to offer messages of support to British football’s most successful manager Alex Ferguson, after the former Manchester United boss underwent emergency surgery for a brain haemorrhage.
United said in a statement on Saturday that Ferguson’s surgery had gone “extremely well”, but the 76-year-old would need a period of intensive care to aid his recovery.
Ferguson won a total of 49 trophies during his illustrious managerial career, which also included spells at St Mirren and Aberdeen. The Scotsman led United to an impressive 38 trophies during his nearly 27-year reign at the club.
Real Madrid forward and five-times Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo kickstarted his career at United under Ferguson from 2003 to 2009.
“My thoughts and prayers are with you, my dear friend. Be strong, Boss!” the Portugal captain said on social media as he shared a picture of him and Ferguson during their time together at Old Trafford.
Beckham was part of the famous “Fergie’s Fledglings” group, along with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and brothers Gary and Phil Neville, that led United to numerous trophies from the mid-1990s, including the historic 1999 treble.
“Keep fighting Boss. Sending prayers and love to (Ferguson’s wife) Cathy and the whole family,” Beckham said on Instagram with a picture of him signing his United youth contract as Ferguson stood by his side.
Many current and former United players, including Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand, Diego Forlan and David de Gea also offered messages of support as did United’s Premier League rivals Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
“The thoughts of everyone at LFC are with Sir Alex Ferguson and his family... a great rival but also a great friend who supported this club during its most difficult time, it is hoped that Sir Alex will make a full recovery,” Liverpool said in a statement.
Ferguson and his family also received well wishes from clubs all around the world.
Italian sides AC Milan and Inter Milan, Spanish champions Barcelona and Scottish champions Celtic were among a host of clubs to support the Scotsman.
Soccer greats, managers, fans, politicians and news outlets sent messages of support as did athletes and governing bodies from other sports, including the National Basketball Association (NBA).
“Sir Alex I’m praying you get through this, you’ve won everything in life any player or manager dreams of, I as a friend am stunned...,” England great Paul Gascoigne said.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis