(Reuters) - Manchester United defender Phil Jones has described his former manager Alex Ferguson as a “father figure” and backed him to return to full health after suffering a brain haemorrhage.
Ferguson underwent emergency surgery on Saturday which United said had gone “extremely well” and the 76-year-old is recovering from the operation in intensive care.
Jones was signed from Blackburn Rovers by Ferguson in 2011 and was part of the Scot’s 13th Premier League title in his final season before retiring in 2013.
“Just devastated, absolutely devastated,” Jones told British media. “He is the one who brought me to the club and gave me that opportunity to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“He’s taken me under his wing like a father. It was shocking, it’s sad, but I know his character. I know he has that fight in him. Hopefully, he’ll recover well.
“When something like that does happen it’s nice that the football world comes together and shows support and we are all rooting for him.”
Wales manager Ryan Giggs, who was handed his United debut by Ferguson in 1991, said he was praying for his former manager’s recovery.
Giggs was one of “Fergie’s Fledglings”, along with David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville, who were in the United team that won numerous trophies under Ferguson, including the 1999 treble.
“Now is the time to pray and hope he can make a full recovery,” Giggs told BBC Wales.
“He has been the biggest influence in my career, both on and off the pitch.
“I know the operation has been a success - but he is a fighter and that is what makes me think that he will be able to make a recovery.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond