For more than 26 years Alex Ferguson has been at the helm of one of the most successful professional sports franchises in the world, but at the conclusion of this season he will step down as manager of Manchester United.  Ferguson is the most successful coach in British football history, but on Wednesday the 71-year-old Scotsman said this of his departure, “It is the right time.” Ferguson took the reins of Manchester United in 1986 and since then the iconic coach has won an astounding 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League championships, two Champions League titles and five FA Cups. “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly,” said Ferguson. The legendary coach will continue to be involved with United as a club director and ambassador.

Ferguson will leave his team after another superb season after they were crowned Premier League champions for a record 20th time following their 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford two weeks ago. “It was important to me to leave an organization in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so,” Ferguson said. “The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth setup will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.” The iconic manager only has two more league matches left in his historic career.

Ferguson had previously stated that only health problems would force him to vacate his post, though he did not mention any health issues in his statement. However it was revealed that he will require hip surgery after the season. “With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future,” Ferguson said. “I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential.”

Ferguson graciously thanked his players for their “staggering level of professional conduct and dedication that has helped to deliver so many memorable triumphs.”

“In my early years, the backing of the board, and Sir Bobby Charlton in particular, gave me the confidence and time to build a football club, rather than just a football team,” Ferguson said. “Over the past decade, the Glazer family have provided me with the platform to manage Manchester United to the best of my ability.” The soccer club is owned by the Glazer family and they did not announce a successor.

“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,” chief executive David Gill stated.