The Passing of a Legend: 'A true gentleman to everyone from stars to groundstaff'

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The Independent Online
DENIS LAW (former United player): 'He was probably the greatest manager English football has seen, a visionary who took English clubs into Europe when most people thought it unwise. He proved he was right. He built great teams in the 1940s the 1950s and the 1960s, but more important he was a true gentleman to everyone from the playing stars to the groundstaff boys. I have known him since I was 16 when I played for the Huddersfield Town youth team against the 'Busby Babes' - the Manchester United youth team. He also gave me my first cap for Scotland when I was 18. It is very sad and strange to think he will no longer be around.'

STEVE BRUCE (current United captain): 'It's a desperately sad day for us all and he will be sadly missed. His teams weren't just successful, it's the way they did it and the style in which they played, and I think that's rubbed off on everybody concerned with Manchester United. It's all right just winning, but when you're with Manchester United you've got to win in style. That's certainly the way Sir Matt played the game and I think it all stems from that.'

RON ATKINSON (former United manager): 'He was the most famous football manager the world has ever seen. No one stands above him. I was lucky enough to rub shoulders with him while I was the manager at Old Trafford and it was a pure pleasure. Whether socially or professionally Sir Matt could not have been more helpful. He inherited a club in ruins after the last war and built it into one of the great footballing legends in the world. Everything achieved at Old Trafford, everything we see there, is down to Sir Matt.'

MARTIN EDWARDS (United's chief executive): 'We are so grateful that we shared in Sir Matt's life and work. In his 25 years as manager he built a team which were champions on five occasions and runners-up seven times. Perhaps the most fitting tribute to his life is the present side's success and playing style. He thoroughly enjoyed and approved the type of football played by Alex Ferguson's team.'

TERRY NEILL (former Arsenal and Northern Ireland manager): 'When I went into management with Hull City in 1970 Sir Matt was one of the first people to encourage me. He told me: 'Aim for the stars. If you aim for the stars you might have a chance of hitting the ceiling. If you only aim for the ceiling you might fall flat on your face.' '

ANDY WILLIAMSON (Football League spokesman): 'Quite simply he was the football man of the century.'

DAVID MEEK (Manchester Evening News journalist): 'The thing that stays in my mind is Sir Matt's achievement of building a team capable of winning the European Cup just 10 years after having a beautiful side virtually wiped out. He had to start again after 1958. Some managers get lucky and build an outstanding team but you don't build three or four great teams like Sir Matt did through luck. He did it all with the human touch. He was no softie but was a warm, friendly man. I recall that he was deeply moved when a colleague's small boy died of cancer. He gave a lot of comfort to the reporter concerned.'

EAMON DUNPHY (Former player and Sir Matt's biographer): 'His personal charismatic quality was something that I have never experienced in any other human being. He had an incredible magnetism. He was a very, very great man in footballing terms. He changed everything - more than anything the status of the professional player and coach. He was the first truly dignified figure who succeeded in management and survived in management and it was very much in his philosophy that people should be treated with dignity.'

BRIAN HORTON (current City manager): 'A great gentleman. It was just a pleasure to be in his company. I've never heard a bad word said about him and what's more, I've never heard him say a bad word about anybody else.'

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