Ferguson confirmed his retirement on Wednesday, but Hodgson has revealed that the news was "unexpected".
"The unexpected news this morning that Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to retire marks the end of an era in football management," Hodgson told reporters.
"No-one will be able to match his achievements, his dedication, his support for colleagues in need and his team building know-how. This is a sad day for English football. I personally wish him a happy and successful retirement."
Everton boss David Moyes is the firm favourite to be handed the role.