MANCHESTER, England (AP) -- Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is retiring at the end of the season, bringing an end to more than 26 trophy-filled years at the club.
"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly," Ferguson, 71, said in a statement on Wednesday. "It is the right time."
The club did not immediately announce a successor.
Since taking charge at Old Trafford in 1986, Ferguson has established himself as the most successful manager in British soccer history, having reversed a previous plan to retire at the end of the 2001-02 season.
After the Scotsman secured a 13th Premier League title two weeks ago -- extending the club's record English championship haul to 20 -- he declared that he had no retirement thoughts.
But now he has just two more matches left in charge of the club he has turned into one of the world's biggest sports teams.
"It was important to me to leave an organization in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so," Ferguson said. "The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth setup will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one."
Ferguson will stay at the club as a director and an ambassador.
"With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future," Ferguson said. "I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential."