Ballymena boss Jeffrey in best wishes for Sir Alex Ferguson recovery

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Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey has added his voice to those wishing former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson a speedy recovery following brain surgery.

The 76-year-old former Manchester United manager remains in intensive care in a Salford hospital after an emergency operation on a brain haemorrhage on Saturday.

David Jeffrey, who said he met Sir Alex at a testimonial match at Windsor Park for the former Manchester United goalkpeer and Munich Air Disaster hero Harry Gregg, paid tribute to Ferguson’s working class ethos and principles.

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“Obviously he is such a giant of a man in football, and the interesting thing is that everyone who has crossed his path has described him as something of a father figure,” he said.

“I would be a student of his and, like everyone else I am hoping and praying that he comes through this difficult situation.”

Mr Jeffrey added: “When you see his working class background, his core ethics and principles, he is someone who I have immense respect for.”

One of Ferguson’s most successful players, Ryan Giggs, was another hoping for a speedy recovery.

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“Now is the time to pray and hope he can make a full recovery,” Giggs told BBC Wales.

Sir Alex FergusonSir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson

“He has been the biggest influence in my career, both on and off the pitch.

“I know the operation has been a success — but he is a fighter and that is what makes me think that he will be able to make a recovery.”

Current United defender Phil Jones agreed, saying: “I know his character. I know he has that fight in him.

“Hopefully he’ll recover well.”

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Jones is one of a handful of players currently at United who were signed by Ferguson, having joined from Blackburn in 2011, and the England international revealed how news of his former manager’s ill health hit him hard.

“(I am) just devastated, absolutely devastated,” Jones said.

“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.

“He’s taken me under his wing like a father and it was shocking.”

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Current top-flight managers at United’s rival clubs such as Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp all had messages of support for Ferguson over the weekend.

And on Sunday, after some Manchester City fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate their Premier League title success, two supporters held up a sign which read: “Football aside get well Fergie”.

Jones added: “He has got all his family and friends around him, the support from all the players and staff at Man 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.

“I’m sure he will be fine.”

Jones’ team-mate Juan Mata dedicated his weekly blog post to Ferguson.

“This Saturday, all of us were overwhelmed by the news,” wrote Mata.