By Frank Kamuntu
Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Arsene Wenger as “an absolute legend” at a special tribute night for the former Arsenal boss.
The managerial duo were bitter rivals for many years but the former Red Devils boss maintains that he has massive respect for the Frenchman
The pair crossed swords several times during their careers as they dominated English football in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The rivalry spilled over into bust-ups several times, including what became known as ‘Pizzagate’, when Ferguson was struck in the face by a slice of pizza in the tunnel after his Manchester United side ended Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run.
But addressing his old adversary via video at the annual Nordoff Robbins charity award dinner, Ferguson said: “The career you had as a manager at Arsenal was absolutely fantastic – an absolute legend.
“I loved the competition against you. We had some great times and it’s wonderful you’re getting this award tonight. So good luck, my blessing with you.”
Wenger was named a ‘Legend of Football’ at the event which celebrated his career, with the Frenchman enjoying a 21-year tenure with the Gunners, guiding them to three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven Community Shields.
Ferguson’s caustic jibes towards the former Monaco head coach, who arrived at Arsenal as a virtual unknown from Nagoya Grampus Eight, also included that; “He’s a novice. He should keep his opinions to Japanese football.”
Wenger too had his moments when he lost it with the former United boss, insisting once he would “never speak about that man again”.
But relations have clearly thawed, with Wenger being presented with a special memento by Sir Alex and Jose Mourinho as he led out the Gunners for his final game against United in April 2018.
Wenger, 69, has been linked with a number of jobs since leaving Arsenal but has so far stayed away from the limelight and says he is unsure whether he will ever make a return to management.
He also revealed that he has turned down offers from the Premier League but refused to name the clubs in question, insisting that he can’t as they already have managers in place.
Ferguson himself has been a past recipient of the ‘Legends of Football’ award, which has been handed out since 1996.
Others who have been honoured include Sir Kenny Dalglish, Alan Shearer, Eric Cantona, Mourinho, Ryan Giggs, Pele, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.