'Thank you for everything', say Manchester United fans to Fergie

Story highlights

  • Instagram users share photos of themselves and their friends and family emblazoned in Manchester United gear
  • Tributes paid by "devastated" fans include a new tattoo by one user of the social media platform
  • From Malaysia to Iceland, posts reflect breadth of United fan base for iconic team and its legendary manager

It was as if someone had died. Fans from across the world poured out their grief after English soccer team Manchester United revealed that their legendary manager, Alex Ferguson, is to retire at the end of this season.

The showing of emotion was particularly apparent on the mobile photo sharing site Instagram, where fans shared photos of themselves and loved ones in United gear in honor of the famed manager, who steered the club to countless victories both in the UK and abroad.

"When I heard the news I got a tear in my eye, felt like I had been punched in the stomach and contemplated calling in sick to work," said Instagram user @jplubrani, who serves in the military in Los Angeles, California.

In Florida, Instagram user @sosogeed813 said he was "shocked" but at the same time was thankful for the legacy that Ferguson will leave the club.

Thousands of miles away in Malaysia, Instagram user @shar316 pictured herself with a commemorative scarf and t-shirt as she reflected Ferguson's achievements at Old Trafford.

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"Seeing my favorite team with another manager next season, that's gonna be tough," she wrote. "But nonetheless thank you for everything you've done, Sir Alex!"

One devastated fan went as far to make his devotion permanent.

After hearing the news, Instagram user @alexbalding went and got a tattoo of a "Red Devil" logo -- the team's nickname.

While the accolades poured in for the world's most famous football club manager, others pondered what life would be like for Manchester United after "Fergie", as he is affectionately known by fans, makes his exit.

"I was very sad to hear the news, but I guess that change might even be good," said @mrsagatha_sari in southern Finland.