Rio Ferdinand to leave Manchester United: Dwight Yorke claims it's the 'end of an era' after United confirm 'colossal' Ferdinand won't be offered new contract

Ferdinand was robbed of a United swansong after being informed he would not have his contract renewed after the final game of the season

Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke has described Rio Ferdinand as "colossal" after the central defender announced he would be leaving the club.

Ferdinand will not be signing an extension to his contract which expires this summer and is now looking for a new club.

The 35-year-old has lost his place in the United side over the last couple of seasons due to a series of injuries and because of the emergence of Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling.

Ferdinand to leave Manchester United after 12 year career

In a statement on his website, Ferdinand said: "I have thought long and hard over the last few months about my future, and after 12 fantastic years playing for what I regard as the best club in the world, I have decided the time is right for me to move on."

Yorke, who played for four seasons at Old Trafford from 1998 to 2002, believes the departure of Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic represents the end of an era for the Reds.

"The word colossal comes into play as that's the type of player that Ferdinand was," Yorke told Sky Sports.

"It doesn't come as a surprise but it's an end of an era for himself and Nemanja Vidic - it's unbelievable the amount of success they've had.

"Rio can leave that football club with his head held incredibly high in terms of what he has achieved."

The decision to let Ferdinand go ignores the advice of interim manager Ryan Giggs, who insisted earlier this month the defender could still make a useful contribution and should be offered a new deal.

Former Reds defender Gary Neville appeared to question the move when he wrote on Twitter: "So it looks like Rio and Vida allowed to leave at once!!! A conveyor belt has become a cliff!"

Ferdinand moved to Old Trafford from Leeds in July 2002 for a then British record transfer fee of £29.1million, which also made him the world's most expensive defender.

Giggs can't bear to watch City celebrations

He won the Premier League title in his first season at the club and went on to lift the trophy five more times in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013.

Ferdinand also won the Champions League in 2008 as the Reds beat Chelsea on penalties in the final in Moscow, as well as two League Cups and a Club World Cup.

His statement continued: "I joined Manchester United in the hope of winning trophies, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how successful we would be during my time here.

"There have been so many highlights, playing alongside some great players who have become good friends, winning my first Premier League title and also that fantastic night in Moscow are memories that I will cherish forever.

"Circumstances didn't allow for me to say goodbye the way I would have liked but I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my team-mates, staff, the club and the fans for an unbelievable 12 years that I'll never forget. Winning trophies I dreamed about as a kid came true at this great club.

"I am feeling fit and healthy, ready for a new challenge and looking forward to whatever the future holds for me."

Rio Ferdinand with Sir Alex Ferguson following his signing for a then British-record £30m fee from Leeds Utd Rio Ferdinand with Sir Alex Ferguson following his signing for a then British-record £30m fee from Leeds Utd  

Ferdinand made 454 appearances for Manchester United and earned 81 caps for England before announcing his international retirement in May last year.

His partnership with Vidic was integral to the Reds' title-winning teams in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and both were named in the PFA Team of the Year at the end of each campaign.

Ferdinand signed a one-year extension to his contract this time last year but has found first-team opportunities harder to come by this season, making just 14 Premier League appearances.

There were no hard feelings, however, as United said on their official Twitter account: "£mufc would like to thank Rio Ferdinand for his long and distinguished service, and wish him well for the future."

PA

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style