Rio Ferdinand: Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement hurt Robin van Persie the most when he brought the curtain down on Manchester United career

Van Persie had been with United for less than a year and admitted he was shocked when Ferguson revealed his decision

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 hurt Robin van Persie the most, according to his former Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand.

Ferguson surprisingly called it a day towards the end of the 2012-13 season, which saw him lead United to a 20th top flight title, the 13th of which came under his management. While his announcement caught many off guard, it appeared to unsettle Van Persie, who had only joined the club from Premier League rivals Arsenal the season before.

Speaking to United’s official club channel MUTV, Ferdinand revealed how the striker took the news worse than anyone else in the squad.

“It took the wind out of everyone's sails,” Ferdinand, now of Queens Park Rangers, said. "It gave us an extra push to go and win [and] be successful in that last season.


“Everyone was really appreciative for what he'd done for our careers. The person it hit more than anyone was Robin. He'd come the year before, tasted that success and wanted more.

“Visually you could see it hit him [Van Persie] harder than anyone else at the time.”

After Ferguson had retired, Van Persie spoke of the moment the Scot announced he would no longer manage the club he took the reins of in 1986, and revealed that he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“I had to gasp for breath and I shook my head,” said Van Persie. “Had he really said what I thought he'd said? The room fell deathly quiet and then everyone became emotional.

“Sir Alex then had a long talk with the squad. I found it a very special speech and felt privileged to have witnessed it.”

Ferdinand left United a year after Ferguson announced his retirement

Ferdinand added that he was somewhat shocked to see England striker Danny Welbeck leave the squad on transfer deadline day. The 23-year-old, who had come through the ranks at United, completed a last-minute £16m deal to Arsenal as he searched for regular first-team football.

"I was surprised [at the move]," added Ferdinand. “Gutted really. He's a local lad and has come through from the under-8s. For him to leave was a little disappointing. I don't think we've seen the best of Danny. He's still got a lot more in him.

“I hope the Arsenal manager gives him the chance to be that responsible front man he wants to be. I'm sure you'll see him flourish.”