Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from professional football.
The former Manchester United, West Ham and Leeds United defender announced his decision live on BT Sport as part of their FA Cup final coverage on Saturday.
Ferdinand, who captained his country and played at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, was released by QPR on Wednesday following their relegation from the Premier League.
In addition to winning 81 England caps, Ferdinand enjoyed considerable success at club level with United, winning six Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League during his time at Old Trafford.
After graduating through the ranks at West Ham, Ferdinand became the world’s most expensive defender with an £18million switch to Leeds in 2000.
Ferdinand broke that record again as Alex Ferguson lured him away from Elland Road for a fee in the region of £30million, which made him the most expensive British footballer in history at the time.
A 12-year spell at Old Trafford was brought to an end with a move to QPR in July last year, but he made just 12 appearances in his brief time at Loftus Road.
Ferdinand said: “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.
“I will always regard the 81 times that I played for England with immense pride. These are all treasured memories that will last a lifetime.
“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.
“None of that would have been possible, without the genius of one man, Sir Alex Ferguson. His greatest accomplishment in my eyes will always be how he developed us as men, not just as footballers. He will in my opinion, always be the greatest manager in British football history.”
Ferdinand’s former Manchester United and England team-mate Gary Neville took to social media to hail the 36-year-old.
Neville tweeted: “Congratulations to @rioferdy5 on his great career. Best I played with and best pairings I’ve seen with Vida/JT [Nemanja Vidic and John Terry]. Covered me very well too!”
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