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Soccer

Sir Alex Ferguson retires as Manchester United boss

Britain's most successful football manager ever, Sir Alex Ferguson, will step down as Manchester United manager at the end of the season. "Fergie" won 13 league titles in 26 full seasons with the club.

At the end of yet another league-winning season, the architect of Manchester United's modern success Sir Alex Ferguson is to end his glittering management career. The club released a statement on Wednesday, quoting Ferguson, explaining that his 26th full season at Manchester United would be his last.

"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," the 71-year-old Scot said. "It was important to me to leave an organization 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."

Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson celebrates after his team clinched the English Premier League soccer title with a win against Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, April 22, 2013. Manchester United won their 20th league title on Monday when a Robin van Persie hat-trick led them to 3-0 victory over Aston Villa and gave them an unassailable 16-point lead over last season's Premier League champions Manchester City. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR LIVE SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS

Ferguson wrapped up the Premiership title in April

Ferguson announced that he would take up a position as both a director and ambassador for Manchester United, the side he helped to 13 league titles, two Champions League triumphs, five FA Cups and other silverware. His remarkable 50-percent league hit-rate helped propel United to a position as England's most successful football club, at the expense of northwestern rivals Liverpool.

"I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential. My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career," Ferguson said.

After a lengthy playing career in Scotland, Ferguson first rose to international recognition as manager of Aberdeen, leading them to the 1983 European Cup Winners' Cup.

He took over from Ron Atkinson at Manchester United in 1986 and is the club's longest-serving, and most successful manager. After a slow start with the team rebuilding United into a championship-winning outfit against the dominant Liverpool and Arsenal teams of the late '80s, Ferguson won his first of 13 Premier League titles in 1993.

Manchester United waltzed to their 20th domestic league title this season, wrapping up the honors well ahead of time on April 23 with a win against Aston Villa. With two games left in the season, United are 10 points clear of Manchester City.

Ferguson's final game in charge will be United's last league match of the season, against West Bromwich Albion on May 19. The announcement was made prior to Manchester United's last home game of the season, against Swansea on Saturday.

Ferguson's West Brom swan song will be his 1,500th match as Manchester United manager.