Messages of support poured in for Alex Ferguson after the legendary former Manchester United manager was left fighting for his life following emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage.
News of his operation was made public by his old club, with a United statement cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the 76-year-old, the most successful manager in British football history.
"It is tragic. I am going to find out how he is as soon as I possibly can," said Everton manager Sam Allardyce, a longstanding friend of Ferguson's, after his side's 1-1 Premier League draw at home to Southampton. Southampton manager Mark Hughes, a United striker during Ferguson's early years at Old Trafford, said: "I only just got a little whisper earlier on. I was hoping it wasn't true. I wish him all the best."
David Beckham was among several United players past and present who took to social media to offer their support to "the boss." On Instagram, with a picture of him as a youngster alongside Ferguson, Beckham wrote: "Keep fighting Boss.. Sending prayers and love to Cathy and the whole family x @manchesterunited." Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, signed by Ferguson as an 18-year-old in 2003, tweeted a picture with his former mentor. "My thoughts and prayers are with you, my dear friend. Be strong, Boss!" he said. Former United and England captain Wayne Rooney said on Twitter: "Get well soon Boss. Thoughts with all the family at this sad time. #AlexFerguson." There was a heartfelt message from former United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and his wife Annemarie, who herself recovered from a brain hemorrhage in 2009.
"Devastated about the news about Sir Alex and knowing all too well about the situation ourselves. Stay strong and hope together with everyone you recover. Edwin & Annemarie," said the couple's Twitter post. Another former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel tweeted simply: "Please. Be strong. Win this one" interspersed with prayer emojis.
Away from football, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, tweeted, "My thoughts are with Alex Ferguson and his family - wishing him a full and speedy recovery." Ferguson retired five years ago having won some 38 major trophies in just over 26 years in charge at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League twice.
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