By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger has paid tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson as the Manchester United manager prepares to celebrate 50 years in football.

The Scot will bring up his half-century on Saturday after making his debut for Queen's Park as a 16-year-old on November 15, 1958. Ferguson scored the only goal that day and has enjoyed a glittering career in management with Aberdeen and United.

Wenger arrived at Arsenal a decade after Ferguson was appointed at Old Trafford and the two men have been big rivals ever since. The Frenchman was full of praise for Ferguson when the topic cropped up at his pre-match press conference.

"50 years is an unbelievable achievement and there is a massive passion behind that," said Wenger.

"In his case it is a massive achievement because for most of those years he has been under pressure at the top, top level. When you know how much it hurts to lose a game... I read of players going into management and they discover how much it hurts to lose a game. When you say 50 years, yes he has won many trophies but believe me there is a lot of suffering involved."

Wenger is also one of the game's elder statesmen. So can he envisage himself emulating Ferguson's half-century?

"Maybe I could do it if I have good health," said Wenger. "I have been involved for about 40 years now. Maybe it would be with an Under-21 team somewhere, or as a director somewhere. As long as I am healthy I would like to stay in football."

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14 Nov 2008