Rio Ferdinand retires from professional football

Rio Ferdinand has retired after 19 years of football. BT Sport announced his retirement on Twitter on Saturday:

In a statement summarized by Jamie Jackson of the Guardian, Ferdinand thanked Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager for the majority of his time at Old Trafford, for helping him to win six Premier League titles, three League Cups, the Champions League, the Uefa Super Cup, and the Fifa Club World Cup over his career.

Jackson also quotes Ferdinand praising Ferguson:

Winning trophies at Manchester United allowed me to achieve everything that I desired in football. 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 [at United] as men, not just as footballers. He will, in my opinion, always be the greatest manager in British football history.

Ferdinand began his career at West Ham United in 1996, transferring to Leeds United in 2000. He then made the switch to Manchester United two years later, where he spent 12 seasons and forged a strong partnership with Nemanja Vidic.  Ferdinand made his final career move to Queens Park Rangers in 2014.

His decision to retire was in no doubt influenced by the tragic death of his wife Rebecca, who he lost to cancer earlier this month.