Manchester United and England defender Phil Jones has sent his support to his former club manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who he describes as being like a father figure.
Ferguson, 76, remains in intensive care in hospital after emergency surgery on Saturday for a brain haemorrhage.
Jones, who was signed by Ferguson in June 2011, was part of the Scot’s final title-winning squad in 2013.
“He’s taken me under his wing like a father and it was shocking,” he said.
“It’s sad, but I know his character and I know he has that fight in him.”
Jones joined United from Blackburn as a 19-year-old in a deal which was reported be worth up to £17m and has made 190 appearances for the Reds since making his debut under Ferguson.
And the 26-year-old has special affection for the Scot, who retired as United manager in May 2013 after winning 38 trophies during 26 years in charge.
“He is such a legend in my eyes. He is the one who brought me to the club and gave me that opportunity to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world,” Jones said.
“He has got all his family and friends around him, the support from all the players and staff at Manchester United and football around the world.
“When something like that does happen it’s nice that the football world comes together and shows support and we are all rooting for him.”
A host of Premier League managers, including Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, sent their good wishes over the weekend to Ferguson, the most successful manager in the history of the British game.
Wenger, who is leaving the Gunners at the end of the season, described Ferguson as “an optimistic man” with Guardiola saying his thoughts were with Ferguson’s wife Cathy and the rest of his family, including his son Darren, who is currently in charge of Doncaster Rovers.
Jones’ team-mate Juan Mata also sent his good wishes saying the news had had a “huge impact” on the club and called on United to use Ferguson’s winning mentality for the remainder of the season.
“He has been a unique and fundamental figure in the football world over the last few decades,” said Mata who joined the club in January 2014.
“I’ve never been coached by him, unfortunately, yet I know well his incomparable legacy on this club.”