Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will step down at season's end, capping a 26-year reign as one of the most famous and successful coaches in any sport.

"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly," Ferguson said in a statement. "It is the right time."

Ferguson said the time is right to leave Man U, after the franchise won its 13th Premier League title this season.

"It was important to me to leave an organization in the strongest possible shape, and I believe I have done so," Ferguson said. "The quality of this league-winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth setup will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one."

English soccer loses its most successful manager as Alex Ferguson steps down from Manchester United after 26 years in which he won 13 league titles and 38 trophies. WSJ’s Joshua Robinson discusses his legacy