Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is to retire at the end of the season after nearly 27 years in the job.
Britain's most successful football manager, the Scot has won 38 trophies during his reign at Old Trafford and will now become a director and ambassador for the club.
"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time," Ferguson said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The quality of this league-winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level"
"It was important for me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so."
"The quality of this league-winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long term future of the club remains a bright one."
Ferguson has guided the team to 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said of Ferguson: “The Premier League has had the privilege to witness many great players, managers and teams. No one has made as great a contribution to the Premier League than Sir Alex Ferguson."
“His drive, ambition, skill, passion and vision have not only shaped Manchester United, but in many ways the game of football as we now know it."
Tough act to follow
Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, Tweeted "His achievements in the game place him without doubt as one of the greats. Was (an) honour to present Sir Alex with award at 2011 Ballon D'Or. Will his longevity at the top ever be repeated?"
Former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel said to Sky Sports News: "I can't make sense of the timing. It has come as an absolute bombshell. I'm disappointed and shocked."
CEO of Sportsmedia, Jonny Gould, told Al Jazeera that Ferguson still being involved in the club could make it difficult for the next manager.
"I am thinking how difficult it will be for the next guy sitting in the hot seat with that legend sitting upstairs blocking your transfer requests" Gould said.
"Whoever comes in will have to live with him still being a major figure at United.
"This retirement has been on the cards for 11 years. He retired 11 years ago but came back after United fell from grace by their own lofty standards.
"He has dominated English football."
United gave no indication of a successor amid speculation Everton's David Moyes could fill the Old Trafford hot seat vacated by fellow Scotsman Ferguson.
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who established a friendly rivalry with Ferguson when in charge of United's rivals Chelsea, has also been touted for the role.
Ferguson's final game in charge will be against West Bromwich Albion on May 19.
To read Lee Wellings' blog on the end of an era click here.
Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies