Former Birmingham City and Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has paid tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson announced his retirement plans at Manchester United yesterday.

McLeish, Ferguson's former captain at Aberdeen, told the Scottish Sun: "Sir Alex has been like a father-figure to me.

"I don't care if people think I sound sycophantic, the guy has made a huge contribution to my life and to my career.

"When I won the Carling Cup with Birmingham he was first on the phone.

"Similarly, when I was going through that tough spell at Villa, he was on the phone asking me up for a chat.

"He's been there for me so many times over the years.

"It was surreal standing opposite him on the touchline. I'd known only good times under him at Aberdeen and suddenly I was pitting my wits against him."