Paul Ince says Sir Alex Ferguson was like a father figure to him.
The Manchester United boss shocked the footballing world yesterday by announcing he is to retire at the end of this season.
Ince spent six years under Ferguson at Manchester United, moving north from West Ham in 1989. And the Blackpool boss said news of his former manager’s retirement came as a massive surprise.
“I was totally shocked. What he has done is unbelievable,” Ince said.
“You can’t explain winning all those Premier League titles, not to mention the Champions League and FA Cups. He has done the lot and you will never see anyone of his kind again.
“Two weeks ago he was talking about staying on for another two years, so it has come as a massive shock.”
Ferguson, 71, won 38 trophies during his time at Old Trafford. His haul includes 13 league titles, two Champions League crowns, five FA Cups and four League Cups.
And Ince is proud to have played his part. “I was one of the fortunate ones – I spent six fantastic years at Manchester United,” he said.
“I remember the first day I joined, I failed my medical and thought my move was going to collapse. But the way he treated me was like a son and I will never forget that.
“He was demanding and his standards were so high. We had our ups and downs but I think he had his ups and downs with most players, especially in that 92-93 season (Ferguson’s first English title win). But the man was immense and he got the most out of me, that’s for sure.
“As a manager, when I was at Blackburn things were not going well and I spent 15-20 minutes in his office.
“He said to me, ‘The only advice I can give you is don’t let the players take the mickey out of you. Don’t give them anything – if you give them an inch they take a mile’.”
Asked if he fancied the United job, Ince said: “I don’t think I’m ready for that type of job, but if they came knocking ... it’s one of the best jobs in the world.”