Sir Alex Ferguson has led the tributes to legendary Northern Ireland-based sports journalist Malcolm Brodie, who has died at the age of 86.

The Manchester United boss described his fellow Scot as a "fantastic man" and "great friend".

Few contemporaries could come close to matching the longevity of the award-winning football writer, who covered 14 World Cups.

Mr Brodie was evacuated from Glasgow to Northern Ireland during the Second World War and it was there he settled and embarked upon a life in journalism.

Sir Alex said he knew Mr Brodie for 40 years.

"He's nothing but a great friend and always good value in terms of opinion," he said.

"He cut to the chase, quite simply, that's who he was – straight talking."

Mr Brodie was awarded an MBE and an honorary doctorate by the University of Ulster. Fifa recognised his contribution to journalism, presenting him with a miniature version of the World Cup trophy to mark the number of tournaments he had attended.

Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce said he would miss him dearly.

"He was the doyen of Northern Ireland football, a very, very trusted journalist and his main aim in life was to promote football," said Belfast man Mr Boyce.

"He was one of the old school and, personally and professionally, I will miss him dearly. My deepest sympathy goes to his wife Margaret and his family."