Bobby Charlton described Wayne Rooney as "a true great" after the Manchester United captain broke the club's goalscoring record on Saturday.
Rooney's brilliant free-kick salvaged a 1-1 draw in the dying seconds against Stoke City and took him to 250 goals in all competitions, moving him one above Charlton's tally.
The United and England great admitted it was disappointing to lose a record he has held since 1973 but was effusive in his praise of Rooney's Old Trafford career.
"It's over 40 years since I scored the last of my 249 goals for Manchester United, so I must admit that I have become used to the honour of being the club's all-time top goalscorer!" Charlton, who congratulated Rooney in person in the dressing room at the bet365 Stadium, told United's official website.
"We have had some incredible strikers here at Old Trafford and they have scored a lot of goals, but it has been fairly obvious for a while now that Wayne Rooney was going to be the one likeliest to break my record, and now that day has come, I would be lying to say that I'm not disappointed to have lost the record.
"However, I can honestly say that I'm delighted for Wayne. He deserves his place in the history books. He is a true great for club and country, and it is fitting that he is now the highest goalscorer for both United and England.
"It has been great to watch him every week since his arrival at Old Trafford in 2004; he set the tone with a wonderful hat-trick on his debut and he has thrilled us all in the years since, going on to enjoy a hugely successful career.
"I was 35 when I retired. Wayne is only 31 and still going strong, so I don't think he's done by a long stretch yet. He continues to show that he can contribute goals, assists and performances whenever called upon, he will raise the bar even further before he calls it a day. Now he's the man to beat, and I can't see anybody doing that for a long, long time."
Ferguson, who signed 18-year-old Rooney from Everton for a reported £25.6million fee in 2004, said the England captain deserved his place in United's illustrious history.
"I would like to say huge congratulations to Wayne on reaching this milestone. It is no mean feat to score so many goals and he breaks a record that has stood for over 40 years," he said.
"Wayne thoroughly deserves his place in the history books of this great club and I am sure that he will go on to score many more goals. Well done Wayne, I am absolutely delighted for you, you have been a great servant to this club and long may it continue."