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Rio Ferdinand calls time on United career

Veteran Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has announced that he will leave the Old Trafford club this summer after a 12-year career at the club. It is something that has been on the cards for some time now and after Nemanja Vidic confirmed that he was leaving to Inter Milan in January, it was just a matter of time before Rio would announce he was leaving two. Both players have had a great career at the Theatre of Dreams and we will remember them for that. The other player expected to leave the club is French left-back Patrice Evra, which really mark the end of an era for United going into next season.

Ferdinand issued a statement through his 5Mag website this evening, saying:

“I have thought long and hard over the last few months about my future and, after 12 fantastic years playing for what I regard as the best club in the world, I have decided the time is right for me to move on.

“I joined Manchester United in the hope of winning trophies, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how successful we would be during my time here. There have been so many highlights, playing alongside some great players who have become good friends, winning my first Premier League title and also that fantastic night in Moscow are memories that I will cherish forever.

“Circumstances didn’t allow for me to say goodbye the way I would have liked but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my team-mates, staff, the club and the fans for an unbelievable 12 years that I’ll never forget. Winning trophies I dreamed about as a kid came true at this great club.

“I am feeling fit and healthy, ready for a new challenge and looking forward to whatever the future holds for me.”

Campo

Ferdinand made his debut for United on the 27th August 2002 in the UEFA Champions League against Zalaegerszeg after making a £30 million switch from Leeds United that summer. He scored his first goal against Wigan Athletic on the 14th December 2005 and went on to make 454 appearances for the club, scoring eight goals. His last goal for the club, against Swansea City at Old Trafford on the special day with marker Sir Alex Ferguson’s last home match in charge of the club. Rio was a vert dependable defender for his club and well worth the initial fee paid for him back in 2002 after the FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

With United, Ferdinand won six Barclays Premier League titles, five FA Community Shields, two Football League Cups, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup. He has had a successful career, coming from the academy of West Ham United, then to Leeds United and finding his way to the pinnacle of European football with United.

United issued a short statement via their official Twitter account saying:

“We would like to thank Rio Ferdinand for his long and distinguished service, and wish him well for the future.”

Former team-mate Gary Neville made a statement via his Twitter feed, which somehow seemed to criticise the way the club has dealt with a few experienced players being allowed to leave the club at the same time:

Just where does Rio Ferdinand take his career now, back to where it started at West Ham United? He has been offered a contract with MLS side LA Galaxy, which is where another former team-mate David Beckham helped raise the profile of the league. United face the MLS side in Los Angeles on the 23rd July during this summers pre-season tour, so they could face a familiar face, should Rio decide to take up their offer. United will also face Nemanja Vidic’s Inter Milan side on tour, so I am sure they will be given a rousing reception, if that was the case.

By Paul Bienkowski

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