Ex-Manchester United manager Fergie gave Wenger a glowing tribute in the official United Review programme.
Ferguson, 76, said: “That rivalry became the highlight of the league season.
“United against Arsenal was great for the game. It made the Premier League.
“When Arsene came to Arsenal, he changed a lot of the eating habits and fitness regimes at the club.
“He was ahead of the game at that particular time. We took examples, as we always tried to take examples from anybody who was improving.
“It was like when you’re driving along the road: you have to be aware of somebody coming up in your wing mirror, trying to overtake you. That was the case with us and Arsenal for quite a few years.”
Wenger won three Premier League titles during those titanic years — including two Doubles. He also lifted the FA Cup four times and oversaw the Invincibles’ unbeaten season.
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During the same period (1998-2005) Fergie won the Champions League, four titles and two FA Cups, including the famous ’99 Treble.
He said: “Virtually every game we played against Arsenal, there was a real edge to the match.
“There were confrontations because there were two teams and two managers battling for one award: the Premier League.
"In my time, we had a few arguments but I always did really respect the man because he did a fantastic job at his club.”
Ferguson added: “The longevity will never be done again. That era has gone. What a career, absolutely fantastic.
“I relished facing Arsene but there was also a bit of trepidation because you had to win those matches, the contest with those two great clubs.
“There was always that feeling that when you did win a game, you knew it was a major victory as it was such a big step towards the title.
“We were always competitive and there were some contentious issues — that’s been well documented.
"But with our roles with Fifa, we would sit for dinner every year in Switzerland and enjoy our company.
“And of course, it’s a different situation — I’ve retired and Arsene is a mature man now. We get on very well.”
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