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Mar 4, 2013

Mourinho applauds Fergie's longevity

Jose Mourinho has paid tribute to the "unique" Sir Alex Ferguson and said he hopes he is still managing at 71.

• Blog: Fergie's tactical quandary • Hunter: Madrid must be at best
• Delaney: Fergie hopeful of history

The Real Madrid manager will lock horns with his Manchester United counterpart again on Tuesday and Mourinho declared "the world will stop" to see the Champions League tie between their two teams.

Mourinho has been touted as a possible successor to his friend Ferguson and the normally eloquent Portuguese said he struggles to do justice to Ferguson's longevity and achievements.

He said: "Sir Alex is unique and I don't have any words that can add to what everybody thinks about him and the respect he deserves from everybody."

Mourinho recently celebrated his 50th birthday and hopes he has at least another couple of decades ahead of him in management.

He added: "It is the kind of job the older you are the better you are. The experiences we live and the thoughts we give to our experiences makes you better. I would love that God gives me health so that I can do it."

Mourinho admitted he does not know where the tie, which is level at 1-1 after the first leg, will be won and lost.

He said: "That is the $1 million question, what will make the difference. Nobody knows and the world will stop to watch this tie. It doesn't look a tie. It looks a final. I doubt the expectation can be bigger than this one."

Mourinho has an excellent record against Ferguson but downplayed the suggestions he has the better of the Scot and said: "It is the kind of match where everything can happen. I know football and big matches well enough to know tomorrow we can go through or we can go out."

The former Chelsea and Inter manager first came to Old Trafford in 2004 when his Porto team eliminated United and Mourinho celebrated their decisive goal by sprinting along the touchline to join his players.

But he promised there will not be a repeat, saying: "Now I have more than 100 [Champions League] matches and I think I can control my emotions a different way. I lose, I don't cry and if I win I don't run 100 metres." The injured Iker Casillas is absent but apart from that, Mourinho reported a clean bill of health.

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