Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted he will never forget what Sir Alex Ferguson did for his career.
The Portuguese forward will be officially presented as a Real Madrid player on Monday after Manchester United accepted a staggering offer of £80million for his services.
Ferguson paid £12.24million to bring Ronaldo to Old Trafford when he was still just a promising teenager in 2003.
He has developed into one of the world's finest players over the past six years and acknowledges that Ferguson deserves much of the credit.
"He's been my father in sport, one of the most important factors and most influential in my career," Ronaldo said in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca.
"I have to thank him for all that he taught me. He's been fundamental. I'll always have great affection for him and he will occupy a special place in my heart.
"I'll also keep a very special memory of (United chief executive) David Gill and all the directors at United."
Ronaldo, who is set to travel to Manchester in the coming days to say his farewells to Ferguson in person, also thanked the United fans for their support.
He added: "It was my home. I played there six seasons and I was always well liked by the United fans.
"We won many things together. They always sang my song in the stands and I have to thank them for the affection they showed me during all the time that I played at Old Trafford. The fans of Manchester (United) are special."