Gill thanks Ferguson for United years
Chief executive David Gill has thanked Sir Alex Ferguson for bringing respect back to Manchester United. In light drizzle, a long list of dignitaries attended the unveiling of a 9ft statue of Ferguson at Old Trafford yesterday. With plenty of supporters in attendance as well, it could have been mistaken for one of those stage-managed occasions used to pay homage to communist leaders. Even Ferguson joked he was "outliving death" with the latest tribute to his remarkable career. Yet the truth is those present had turned up of their own free will, to give thanks for the 37 trophies - by United's own calculations - the club has won since he came south from Aberdeen in 1986. But to those whose day-to-day involvement with the Red Devils brings them closest to the 70-year-old Scot, he has done so much more. "Everyone can talk eloquently about the great football teams he has built and world class players he has developed and managed," said Gill. "They can talk about the hairdryer and Fergie time. "But for me, as a fan, a colleague and a friend, the greatest thing he has brought back to this club is respect. "Respect for the staff; respect for the heritage and history of the club and respect for the Manchester United way." Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were amongst those present to watch Ferguson's wife Cathy complete the unveiling at a ceremony hosted by celebrity United fan Eamonn Holmes. In addition, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and former Prime Minister Tony Blair paid tribute by video. The statue, created by renowned sculptor Philip Jackson, depicts Ferguson by the touchline, arms folded, concentrating on the game. Ferguson was suitably impressed by the creation, which has been positioned outside the stand which bears his name. However, the strangeness of the situation was not lost on the Scot. "Normally people die before they have a statue," said Ferguson. "I am outliving death." Ferguson joked that Cathy had promised him that "she would come down here every Saturday morning and bow to the statue". He added: "My three sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren can all come down here on a Saturday."
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