03/05/2013 10:04 EST | Updated 05/05/2013 05:12 EDT

Ferguson says managing in big matches makes it hard to 'voluntarily walk away' from Man United

MANCHESTER, England - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says being involved in the big football occasions is maintaining his hunger for the job and staving off retirement thoughts.

The 71-year-old Scot has been in charge at Old Trafford since 1986 and is closing in on a 13th Premier League title, while also chasing a third European Cup this season.

United hosts Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, and in the matchday program Ferguson writes: "People ask me why I don't retire after so many years in the game."

He adds: "How could anyone with an ounce of passion for football in their soul voluntarily walk away from the opportunity to be involved in this kind of occasion?"

United held Madrid to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their last-16 encounter.