Ferguson ends 27-year tenure at helm of Manchester United

London, May 8 (EFE).- Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will step down at the end of this season, ending his 27-year tenure at the helm of the iconic English club, the team announced Wednesday on its Web site.

"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," the 71-year-old Scotsman, who led United to 13 English Premier League and two UEFA Champions League titles, was quoted as saying.

The British media reported that Ferguson, who will undergo a hip operation in August, made his decision for health reasons.

Ferguson said he was pleased that he was leaving United, which captured its 20th league title this season, in "the strongest possible shape."

The manager, who came to Old Trafford in 1986 after a successful nine-year stint at Scottish club Aberdeen, said he would stay on as United's "director and ambassador."

Among those mentioned in the media as a potential successor to Ferguson is Jose Mourinho, who would be available this summer if he decides to leave Real Madrid.

The Portuguese manager, however, is expected to return to London club Chelsea at the end of this season.

Another potential replacement is Scotsman David Moyes, who is the current manager of Liverpool-based club Everton and is highly regarded by United's brass.