Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick said Alex Ferguson was a "one-off" and "arguably the best manager of all time" as the veteran Scottish boss prepared Sunday to take charge of his final home match at Old Trafford before retirement.
After more than 26 years, yielding 38 major trophies, at United the 71-year-old Ferguson stunned the sporting world by announcing Wednesday he would retire at the end of the season.
The English champions moved swiftly to announce a replacement in fellow Glaswegian David Moyes, highly regarded for his work with United's Premier League rivals Everton.
"It has been a strange week to say the least. Everyone is still coming to terms with the fact he is leaving and a new manager is coming in," Carrick told BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek programme ahead of Ferguson's Old Trafford farewell against Swansea later Sunday.
"The initial thoughts were really disappointed and quite gutted when the manager told us as a team. It was quite sad in the dressing room.
"It was a huge moment, not just for us as players, but we were well aware for the football world in general.
"He is arguably the best manager of all time so for him to be sitting in the changing room and telling us it was his time to retire, it was quite an emotional time."
But while many believe Moyes has an almost impossible job in following Ferguson, Carrick said the Everton manager was well suited to the task ahead.
"David has done an unbelievable job at Everton over a long period of time to keep them up there challenging for Europe He hasn't had the money of the top four or five clubs but he has always put a team out there to challenge.
"I am sure he will come here and have a successful time."
Meanwhile Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, one of the outstanding players of his era, said Ferguson had got the timing of his departure spot on having guided United to a 13th Premier League title this season.
"It's fantastic for him, to prepare yourself and do it after winning a trophy so you can enjoy it is great, and it is nice when you can decide when to go, not to have others say 'maybe it would be better now if you left your job here and go up in the stands'," an admiring Laudrup said.