Jose Mourinho: Manchester United lose a 'big player' when Michael Carrick retires

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has praised Michael Carrick, saying the club will be "losing a big player but keeping a big man" when he retires.

Carrick, 36, brings down the curtain on his playing days at the end of the season, when he will become a member of the Old Trafford backroom staff.

And speaking at the Manchester United Player of the Year awards ceremony on Tuesday, Mourinho hailed the former England midfielder.

"I have to admit that one of the most difficult things in my 18 years as a manager is when a big player is leaving -- it is always very sad," he said.

"So this time we try to do it in a way where I am not sad. A big player is leaving, but a big man is staying.

"There is a space for him and we will welcome him with open arms but, before that, we still want Michael to play and then the next day give his boots to his kids."

Carrick responded by saying his career at the club had made him into a United fan.

"I don't know what to say after that," he said of Mourinho's remarks. "I said I wasn't going to get emotional but that caught me out.

"To the fans, I've turned into one of you now -- I support this club home and away.

"We've got a great spirit. We need to keep that and we need to stick together."

Carrick was also presented with a special contribution award at the ceremony, at which goalkeeper David De Gea was named Player of the Year for the fourth time in five years.