Ferguson surprised the football world on Wednesday when he announced his decision to retire at the end of the season.

Moyes, out of contract at Goodison Park, has been appointed to take over from his fellow Scot at Old Trafford, and Ferguson revealed his long-held interest in the former Preston North End manager.

"David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic," Ferguson said in a statement.

"I've admired his work for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of assistant manager here.

"He was a young man then at the start of his career and has since gone on to do a magnificent job at Everton. There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this club."

Moyes thanked Ferguson for backing him to take up the reins at one of the world's biggest clubs.

"It's a great honour to be asked to be the next manager of Manchester United," he said.

"I am delighted that Sir Alex saw fit to recommend me for the job. I have great respect for everything he has done and for the football club."