Stars galore as Fergie immortalized in bronze

AP and reuters, MANCHESTER, England

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 - Page 19

Current and former Manchester United stars huddled under umbrellas outside Old Trafford on Friday for the unveiling of a 2.75m bronze statue of manager Alex Ferguson.

Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Edwin van der Sar, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, and Gary and Phil Neville, as well as Wayne Rooney and the entire United first team squad were among the guests.

More than 2,000 United fans also came, some carrying banners that read “Sir Alex the Great.”

“Normally people die before they see their statue; I’m outliving death,” said an emotional Ferguson, who has been United’s manager for more than 26 years.

Rain sprinkled onto the statue, which depicts the manager in typical Ferguson-fashion, arms crossed.

A plaque, which Ferguson unveiled with his wife, Catherine, described her as “his greatest supporter.” Ferguson said of his wife that “someone has to control me and she is the only one who can.”

The statue has been placed in front of the “Sir Alex Ferguson Stand,” which has two large pictures of Ferguson holding the Premier League and Champions Leagues trophies aloft.

David Beckham appeared before the crowd on a video screen, with the LA Galaxy midfielder saying that his time at United “was without doubt the highlight of my career and I cherish it.”

The sculptor Philip Jackson said that he wanted to portray Ferguson’s humor “so there’s just a slight smile in the corner of his mouth.”

Ferguson is the Premier League’s most successful manager with 12 titles. Ferguson has also won the Champions League twice, and the FA Cup five times. Earlier this year he was voted the “Best Manager” in the Premier League’s 20 Seasons Awards.

Ferguson has become one of the most iconic figures in British sport during his long reign at United.

Phrases such as “the hairdyer” (a half-time blast aimed at under-performing players) and “Fergie time” (a reference to United’s reputation for scoring goals in injury time) have become embedded in the country’s soccer lexicon