Rio Ferdinand retires: Former Manchester United and England captain announces his retirement from football after leaving QPR

Centre-back won the Champions League and played 81 times for England

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The Independent Football

Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from football after being released by QPR.

The 36-year-old revealed his decision live on BT Sport after his contract was not renewed by the club following their relegation from the Premier League.

"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," Ferdinand said in a statement.

"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."

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Ferdinand made 11 appearances for QPR this season (Getty)

Ferdinand played for 19 seasons in the top flight, winning the Premier League six times and the Champions League in 2007/8 with Manchester United.

He played 81 times for England, and was named in four successive World Cup squads, playing in the 2002 and 2006 tournaments.

Ferdinand used his statement to pay tribute to Rebecca Ellison, who he married in 2009 and who died after losing her battle with breast cancer.

He said: "I'd also like to thank and pay tribute to my late wife Rebecca and my family, including my mother and father, for their sacrifices, their encouragement and their advice throughout my career."

After starting his career at West Ham, making his debut in the 1995/96 season, the centre-back moved to Leeds in November 2000 for a British record fee of £18 million, which was also a world record for a defender.

His move to United for the 2002/03 season for £30 million broke both records again, and he enjoyed 13 successful seasons at Old Trafford, although he was also banned for eight months after missing a drugs test in September 2003.

 

Ferdinand thanked Sir Alex Ferguson for his role in mentoring the defender during his time at the club.

"Winning trophies over my thirteen years at Manchester United, allowed me to achieve everything that I desired in football," he said.

"None of that would have been possible, without the genius of one man, Sir Alex Ferguson. He will in my opinion, always be the greatest manager in British football history."

Ferdinand re-joined Harry Redknapp, his first manager at West Ham, with QPR for this season after his contract at Old Trafford expired, and made 11 league appearances for the club.

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