London, May 30 (IANS) Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand retired from football after 18 years of playing the game at the top level, a statement from the player said on Saturday.
“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,” the statement said.
Ferdinand’s decision came four weeks after his 34-year-old wife Rebecca died from cancer earlier this month.
“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,” the statement on BT sport added.
Reflecting on his days with Premier League giants Manchester United, Ferdinand said in the statement: “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.”
He thanked his family and fans for the continuous support he has had over the span of his career.
“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.”