HE was known to share a bottle with even his fiercest managerial rivals at the end of a closely contested game, and certainly had a nose for the good stuff.

Now Sir Alex Ferguson's ­appreciation for wine could be set to earn him millions after he decided to put part of his extensive collection on the transfer market.

The Govan-born former Manchester United boss is to sell around 5000 bottles through Christie's auctioneers, including many rare wines and vintages which have a special significance to his career.

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The vintages stretch from 1986, the year he left Aberdeen to take charge at Old Trafford, until 2011 and includes bottles of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Burgundies and many Finest First Growth Bordeaux.

There are also bottles from 1999, the 72-year-old Scot's greatest year in charge of the Red Devils, when he achieved an unprecedented treble by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

Camley's Cartoon 

The wines, which are expected to fetch a total of more than £3 million, will be offered at sales in Hong Kong on May 24, London on June 5 and online only from June 9 to June 23.

Alongside some of the wines in the Hong Kong and London auctions will be select pieces of signed footballing memorabilia.

During his 26 seasons in charge of United Sir Alex won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles.

He said: "I am pleased to be working with Christie's to share one of my life's pleasures. My interest in wine began during a scouting trip in France and, over time, my enjoyment of discovery and collecting grew.

"The importance of collecting wine was that it served as a distraction and gave me a balance in my life that helped me in dealing with the intensity and demands required of me as the manager of Manchester United.

"In retirement, I now have the time to visit the places and people that will feed my passion, so I felt it made sense to release a large number of the wines I had collected over the years. I hope many will enjoy exploring my collection."

Although the manager had a reputation for giving the 'hairdryer' treatment to errant players, Sir Alex always extended a post-match glass of vino to his counterpart in the opposition dugout.

Chelsea manager Jose ­Mourinho once produced a £300 bottle of Portuguese red after Sir Alex branded his first effort "paintstripper", and other managers also spoke of the ritual.

Sir Alex said: "Even though the rivalries are intense, you have to find that moment where you can say, 'Look, the game's a game - let's carry on with our lives'."

The cellar consists almost 75% of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, a French Burgundy which ­Christie's International Director of Wine David Elswood said "is probably the wine in vogue, the wine of the moment in terms of demand". He added: "So hopefully that's going to draw the attention of not just Alex Ferguson fans but wine fans too.

"While Sir Alex Ferguson's reputation and standing in football is renowned the world over, we are thrilled at Christie's to be able to showcase his exceptional taste in fine wine. This collection includes a roll-call of impressive wines, including one of the most comprehensive groups of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti we have ever offered at auction.

"It is remarkable to see that Sir Alex's talent of picking quality players for the pitch also extends to picking sensational wines for the cellar."