Sir Alex Ferguson said he was surprised when David Gill told him of his intention to step down as Manchester United's chief executive but believes he will be a positive influence at UEFA.
Gill will leave his post with the Premier League leaders on June 30 and is standing for election to UEFA's executive committee. Ferguson believes United's loss will be a gain for European football's governing body and the sport as a whole.
He said: "He spoke to me some weeks ago and I was surprised. I understand where he's coming from, though. He has other challenges, and I think he'll do fantastic at UEFA. I think he'll contribute to the game in general and have an influence on football."
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will step up to replace Gill at Old Trafford and Ferguson is confident United's future is in good hands.
He added: "There's a good stability here. [With] the foundations David's laid down, it's easy to carry on from that. There's a template we can follow and I think that's what Ed will do.
"The job is to support the manager and staff so we can maintain the success we have. I don't think that should change that much."
Ferguson paid tribute to Gill, who has been United's chief executive for a decade, saying: "We had a good relationship and I used to wind David up. We had a lot of arguments and I'd say: 'You know what your problem is? You're an accountant!' But David was straight as a dice, it's always black and white. It's a great quality."