Lady Cathy Ferguson, the wife of former Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson, dies

Lady Cathy and Sir Alex Ferguson met in 1964 when he was just 23 years old and they married shortly after in 1966; they have three sons Mark, born in 1968, and twin boys, Peterborough boss Darren and Jason, born in 1972; Man Utd say Lady Cathy was a 'tower of strength' for Sir Alex

Image: Lady Cathy with Sir Alex Ferguson outside Old Trafford in 2012

Lady Cathy Ferguson, the wife of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, has died.

Lady Cathy and Sir Alex met in 1964 when he was just 23 years old and they married shortly after in 1966. They have three sons Mark, born in 1968, and twin boys, Peterborough manager Darren and Jason, born in 1972.

The Ferguson family confirmed the news in a statement released to the PA news agency on Friday afternoon.

"We are deeply saddened to confirm the passing yesterday [Thursday] of Lady Cathy Ferguson, survived by her husband, three sons, two sisters, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild," the statement read.

"The family asks for privacy at this time."

Sir Alex retired in 2013 after the death of Lady Cathy's sister, Bridget. He said at the time: "My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career, providing a bedrock of both stability and encouragement. Words are not enough to express what this has meant to me."

Lady Cathy had previously talked him out of retirement in 2002.

Man Utd issued a statement on Friday which read: "Everyone at Manchester United sends our heartfelt condolences to Sir Alex Ferguson and his family on the passing of Lady Cathy, a beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother, and a tower of strength for Sir Alex throughout his career."