Sir Alex Ferguson, 71, announced his retirement as the manager of Manchester United on Wednesday, ending his 27-year stint with the football club. He will hang up his boots as the club's manager after the West Bromwich Albion game on 19 May.

The announcement came amid speculations that the most successful manager in English football history could call it quits. However, his association with the club will continue as he has been made the director and ambassador of the club.

"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so," said Sir Alex Ferguson in a statement.

"It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so. 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 set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one."

Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex FergusonReuters

He expressed his happiness on continuing his association with the club, though not as a manager.

"Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both Director and Ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future," he said.

Alex Ferguson
Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson holds the English Premier League trophy following their English Premier League football match against Blackpool at Old Trafford, northern England, on 22 May, 2011Reuters

Ferguson thanked his family, particularly his wife Cathy, for their support.

"I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential. My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career, providing a bedrock of both stability and encouragement. Words are not enough to express what this has meant to me," he said.

"As for my players and staff, past and present, I would like to thank them all for a staggering level of professional conduct and dedication that has helped to deliver so many memorable triumphs. Without their contribution the history of this great club would not be as rich."

Alex Ferguson
Manchester United's coach Alex Ferguson attends a training session in Munich, on 29 March, 2010. Bayern Munich are set to play Manchester United in a Champions League quarter final football matchReuters

He went on to thank the board members of the club for their consistent support throughout his career as Manchester United manager.

"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. Over the past decade, the Glazer family have provided me with the platform to manage Manchester United to the best of my ability and I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with a talented and trustworthy Chief Executive in David Gill. I am truly grateful to all of them."

Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex FergusonReuters

He didn't forget to thank the fans who supported the club through thick and thin.

"To the fans, thank you. The support you have provided over the years has been truly humbling. It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to lead your club and I have treasured my time as manager of Manchester United."

Joel Glazer, who control Manchester United football club, is all praises for Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Alex has proven time and time again what a fantastic manager he is but he's also a wonderful person. His determination to succeed and dedication to the Club have been truly remarkable. I will always cherish the wonderful memories he has given us, like that magical night in Moscow," he said in a statement

Sir Alex Ferguson will retire as manager of Manchester United on a high, having won this year's league title which is the thirteenth in 27 years of his illustrious career. He has won 38 trophies for the club, including 13 league titles, two Champions League titles, five FA Cups and four League Cups.

Who Will Replace the Most Successful Manager?

With Sir Alex Ferguson having announced his retirement, speculations on who would take his place have risen. Several names like Jose Mourinho, David Moyes and Jurgen Klopp have popped up.

Jose Mourinho
Jose MourinhoReuters

Jose Mourinho, 50, who is set to end his career as Real Madrid manager by the end of this season, is said to be one of the frontrunners to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. He has worked with clubs like Benfica, Uniao de Leiria, Porto, Chelsea, Internazionale and Real Madrid, and is considered to be one of the best coaches.

David Moyes
David MoyesReuters

David Moyes, 50, who is completing his contract as Everton manager this summer, is said to be one of the frontrunners to become the next Manchester United manager. He said he would talk about his future only by the end of the season.

Jurgen Klopp
Borussia Dortmund's coach Jurgen Klopp celebrates after Champions League semi-final second leg soccer match against Real Madrid in MadridReuters

Jurgen Klopp, 45, the current manager of German football club Borussia Dortmund, is also projected to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. His reputation has hit a new high after his team reached this year's Champions League semi-final without conceding any defeat and beating Spanish giants Real Madrid in the semi-final on aggregate, booking a place for the final against Bayern Munich at Wembley later this month.