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Sir Alex Ferguson sends Arsene Wenger congratulatory letter ahead of 1,000th match

Mar 21, 2014, 11:24 PM EDT

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A kind gesture was extended today from one legendary manager to another as Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to longtime Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

With the Frenchman set to mark his 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal FC, Ferguson sent his former counterpart a letter.

“I congratulate Arsene in reaching this momentous landmark,” wrote Ferguson. “Having also reached the same milestone at one club, I cannot emphasize enough the level of dedication, resilience as well as sacrifice required and for that I have for the utmost admiration.”

Ferguson pointed out how special his matchups with Wenger were to him, and said watching Arsenal from a neutral perspective always put a smile on his face.

“Over the years we enjoyed some fantastic battles and you could say we had survived together and respected each other’s efforts to play good football,” said the Manchester United legend. “I always enjoy watching Arsene’s sides – Arsenal play the right way. Perhaps the biggest compliment I could give Arsene is that I could never be anything other than competitive with my rival for 17 years.”

Wenger responded on the official Arsenal website, saying the letter means a lot to him, and that he works this cutthroat business not just for winning and losing.

“In fact, the real goal of professional football entails not just winning but also enabling people to discover the pleasure of watching something beautiful,” Wenger said through the official Arsenal website.

The 64-year-old began managing Arsenal in 1996.  Wenger’s 1,000th game will come against Jose Mourinho and Chelsea at 8:45am ET from Stamford Bridge on Saturday, which you can watch live on NBCSN and live online at NBC Sports Live Extra. Hopefully a puffy jacket is involved, it would only be fitting (see what I did there?).

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