I first met Sir Alex 60 years ago when we played in the same Scottish schools international in 1958 and he was a determined individual even then.

We also played against each other on occasion and I was always honoured that he thought of me as a tough opponent.

But perhaps my biggest honour came later in life when in 1986, I got a phone call from him while I was teaching at a college in Ayr.

I thought it was a joke at first, but it was actually Sir Alex and he said: “You know I’ve had to take over the national team following the death of Jock Stein? Well I’d like you to come and help out.” I wasn’t in the top league at the time so it was a great honour for him to ask me.

Even more so when you see how great he went on to become.

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His success with Manchester United is quite incredible. It’s the most difficult league in the world and the fact that he’s managed to secure as many league titles as he has, as well as the success in Europe, tells you we are dealing with an exceptional individual.

He’s the best manager on the planet – the best there’s ever been or likely to be again.

And because of his drive, his determination, his sustainability, I know he won’t lie down to this illness.

I’ve always thought of Sir Alex as being indestructible and I know he more than anyone has the ability, both physically and mentally, to fight this.

He also has a good family around him.

I know his sons and his wife and they are lovely people who will give him all the support he needs.

Sir Alex is a very genuine person, with a great sense of humour, and he’s also very intelligent and competitive.

He loves quizzes and he used to challenge us when we were travelling away but no-one could ever beat him.

READ MORE: Football world unites in prayers for legend of the game Sir Alex Ferguson

He doesn’t like to lose at anything – football, golf and even quizzes – he just hates being beaten.

So I’m quite sure, just in the way he beats everyone, even at trivial pursuit, he’ll go on to beat this illness.

Craig Brown is currently non executive director of Aberdeen. He managed Scotland’s national football team between 1993 and 2001.