Wayne Rooney says fond farewell to Rio Ferdinand

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Wayne Rooney says it has been a 'pleasure' playing alongside Rio Ferdinand after the defender announced that he would be leaving Manchester United after 12 years when his contract expires next month.

The 35-year-old joined the Red Devils from Leeds in 2002 in a deal worth £30 million - making him Britain's most expensive player at the time.

He went on to make 454 appearances for Manchester United, helping them to win the Premier League six times and the Champions League once.

"Just want to wish Rio good luck in the future in whatever he decides to do," Rooney, who has played alongside Ferdinand since he joined the club in 2004, wrote on his official Facebook page. "It's was a pleasure playing alongside him an winning many trophies together."

Ferdinand joins fellow defensive stalwart Nemanja Vidic in heading out of Old Trafford this summer. The Serbian has agreed to join Inter Milan, and it is expected that Ferdinand will carry on playing elsewhere for at least another season.

Revealing the news in an open letter on his website last night, he 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.

"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."

The former West Ham defender's final game at Old Trafford was the 1-0 defeat against Sunderland at the start of the month, and he came on as a sub in Manchester United's last game against Southampton to make his 14th and final league appearance of the season.

"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 teammates, staff, the club & the fans for an unbelievable 12 yrs that I’ll never forget," he continued. "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”.

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Manchester United
Premier League
Rio Ferdinand
Wayne Rooney

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