Marcello Lippi admits he “didn’t expect” Sir Alex Ferguson to announce his retirement as Manchester United manager, as they are good friends.
The Scottish tactician confirmed the decision to step down at the end of this season after 26 years on the bench, though he will remain at Old Trafford as a director and ambassador.
“I didn’t expect this,” confessed former Italy and Juventus Coach Lippi on Radio Sportiva.
“I did not think that within him was the desire to stop. I spoke to him many times, including in recent years, and he always told me football was his life, so he didn’t want to go home to ‘the boss’ – his wife.
“It is only right that he now goes around the world as an ambassador for football, not just for United.”
Ferguson used to show videotapes of Lippi’s Juventus to his Manchester United side as guidance.
“The first time we met, we were part of a get-together between Europe’s most important Coaches and I remember he said he was impressed by the concentration of my Juve players in the tunnel before games.
“Many times he told me he took Juventus as an example to build his great Manchester team. I don’t speak English, while he speaks a very particular English, so we needed an interpreter. Later we discovered we both spoke French, so were able to communicate that way.
“We’ve got a great rapport and would exchange bottles. He’d send me whisky and I’d send him Italian wine.”