What they’re saying about Ferguson’s retirement from United

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Every single person in the soccer community will be reeling from the news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement from management this morning.

The Manchester United manager has been the most successful in British history and will now become a director and ambassador for United.

Let’s take a look at what the soccer world is saying about Ferguson’s retirement, contribution to the game and the legacy he has left behind, not only at United but for the global game.

Manchester United chief executive David Gill: “I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of working very closely with Alex for 16 unforgettable years – through the treble, the double, countless trophy wins and numerous signings. We knew that his retirement would come one day and we both have been planning for it by ensuring the quality of the squad and club structures are in first-class condition. Alex’s vision, energy and ability have built teams – both on and off the pitch – that his successor can count on as among the best and most loyal in world sport.”

FIFA President Sepp Blatter: “Just heard Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring at end of season. His achievements in the game place him without doubt as one of the ‘greats’. Was honour to present Sir Alex with award at 2011 Ballon D’Or. Will his longevity at the top ever be repeated?”

Uefa president Michel Platini: “Sir Alex has made a massive contribution to football, not only in Scotland and in England, but across Europe and beyond. His dedication, his attention to detail and his unique eye for talent, as both the manager of Manchester United and Aberdeen, has brought rich rewards over a 30-year period. His CV is almost unique in a results-based profession that normally focuses on short-term solutions rather than long-term vision.”

Richard Scudamore, Premier League chief executive: “The Premier League has had the privilege to witness many great players, managers and teams. No one has made as great a contribution to the Premier League than Sir Alex Ferguson. His drive, ambition, skill, passion and vision have not only shaped Manchester United, but in many ways the game of football as we now know it. Sir Alex and his teams during the Premier League era have set the pace others have had to follow; 13 titles out of 21 seasons is a phenomenal achievement.”

Football Association chairman David Bernstein: “Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements are truly remarkable – he is genuinely one of the greatest managers of all time and certainly of the modern era. His contribution to English football has been outstanding in every regard and, in The FA’s 150th year, it is something that should be celebrated. On behalf of The FA I’d like to wish him a happy and healthy retirement.”

Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor: “The game of football will be a lot poorer place without him. He has been quite simply the best. He followed in Sir Matt Busby’s footsteps and even surpassed him. He will be also be the toughest act to follow.”

UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson: “Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the greatest British managers of all time and has been an incredible servant to Manchester United, bringing the club unprecedented success domestically and in Europe. His enthusiasm for our national game is boundless and I congratulate him on a remarkable managerial career.”

Former Manchester United player David Beckham: “He means everything to Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson will continue to be a legend and his legacy with the club will never change. The impact he has on the team, the players and the fans, I don’t think there is anyone around in football who has had that impact, ever.”

Former Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo: “Thanks for everything, boss.”

Former Manchester United striker Michael Owen: “It’s just not sinking in! Manchester United with no Sir Alex just doesn’t feel right. What a man and great that it has ended on his terms. What a privilege to have played under arguably the best manager the world has ever seen. His record will surely never be eclipsed. Simply astonishing to read through his managerial record of achievements.”

Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy: “2001-2006, 219 games, 150 goals under the most successful manager in football history. It was a unique privilege.”#SAF

Former Manchester United midfielder and current Blackpool boss Paul Ince: “I’m totally shocked. What’s he’s done in unbelievable. You’ll never see anyone of his kind again. Two weeks ago he was talking about staying on for another two years, so it’s a massive, massive shock. The way he treated me was like a son.”

Golfer Rory McIlroy: “An end of an era. Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest of all time. United will have a tough time trying to replace him.”

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

[ MORE: MLS All Stars vs. Juventus ]

The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.