Sir Alex Ferguson: I only ever had four world-class players at Manchester United
Sir Alex Ferguson has named Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo as the only world-class players he managed during his 26-and-a-half year reign at Manchester United.
The quartet played crucial roles in Ferguson's three great sides, starting with the 1993-94 double winners through to the 2008 Champions League winners.
Giggs spent 23 years playing for United and is the club's most decorated player, Cantona was the catalyst for The Reds' breakthrough title in 1993, Scholes is one of the most eulogised footballers of his generation and Ronaldo is destined to be remembered as one of the game's greats.
"If you read the papers or listen to the television commentators, we seem to be awash with 'world-class' footballers," Ferguson writes in his new book, Leading.
"In my book there are only two world-class players playing today: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Scholes is one of the most praised players of his generation
"I don't mean to demean or criticise any of the great or very good footballers who played for me during my 26-year career at United, but there were only four who were world class: Cantona, Giggs, Ronaldo and Scholes.
Cantona's arrival enabled United to win their first title in 26 years
"And of the four Cristiano was like an ornament on the top of a Christmas tree."
Giggs enjoyed a phenomenal career at United
There are glaring omissions in Ferguson's pantheon, notably Roy Keane, perhaps United's greatest captain, and Rio Ferdinand, arguably the best defender in the world between 2006-08.
Other players, such as Nemanja Vidic and Robin van Persie, have enjoyed world-class spells at United, however Ferguson differentiates sustained form with natural ability.
Cristiano Ronaldo was a sensational player for United
"There were big influences like Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Steve Bruce,' Ferguson added at the Royal Festival Hall on Monday night.
Robson (left) and Keane (right) were two of United's finest captains
"They were not the type of have egos. They weren't the best footballers but they had wonderful desire and made sure they were the best players."