During his 19-year career, Rio Ferdinand has won six Premier League title and the Champions League with Manchester United. And the 36-year-old player has announced his retirement from professional football.
Announcing his retirement, Ferdinand said: “After 18 years as a professional footballer, I now feel it’s the right time for me to retire from the game that I love.”
London-born Ferdinand, who had 12 years at Manchester United after spells with West Ham and Leeds, last played for QPR in March.
He won six Premier League titles, the Champions League and three League Cup trophies in 12 seasons with Manchester United. He was also capped 81 times by England.
“As a 12-year-old boy, kicking around a football on the Friary Estate in Peckham, I never dreamt that I would play for my boyhood club West Ham, captain Leeds United, win the Champions League with Manchester United, or re-join my first manager Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers.”
Ferdinand began his career under Redknapp at West Ham, and had a short loan spell at Bournemouth before making his England debut at the age of 19 in 1997.
He joined Leeds for £18m in 2000, and then moved to Manchester United two years later in a deal worth £29.1m, which at the time was a world-record fee for a defender.
“Starting a career, every young man needs mentors. I found mine in Dave Goodwin, the district manager at Blackheath, and Tony Carr, the youth team manager at West Ham. They installed in me personality traits that lasted throughout my career. I will always be grateful to them,” praised Ferdinand.
While at Old Trafford, he won six Premier League titles, and lifted the Champions League in 2008 as Chelsea were beaten on penalties in Moscow.
“Winning trophies over my 13 years at Manchester United allowed me to achieve everything that I desired in football. From a young child to today, that was all I cared about.”
Former United and England team-mate Paul Scholes said of Ferdinand: “He was a great player, without a doubt the best centre-half I ever played with. I would say for a time as well he was the best centre-half in the world.”
Ferdinand closed his farewell speech by giving his appraisal to his family and fans, “I’d also like to thank and pay tribute to my wife Rebecca and my family, including my mother and father, for their sacrifices, their encouragement and their advice throughout my career.And finally, I’d like to thank all the fans from all the clubs – for without them professional football would not exist. I will miss each and every one of you on my Saturday afternoons.”