Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from football, bringing an end to his glittering 19-year playing career.
The 36-year-old announced the news live on BT Sport, ahead of the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Aston Villa, earlier this afternoon.
Ferdinand’s former Manchester United teammate Paul Scholes - a fellow BT Sport pundit - led the tributes for the ex-England international, hailing him as the best centre-back in the world at his peak.
“He’s a great player, without doubt the best centre-half I ever played with,” Scholes commented. “I would have said for a time, as well, he was the best centre-half in the world - such a pleasure to play with, playing in front of him it made your job so easy.
“It’s a shame but your time comes to an end at some point.”
Ferdinand was world-class at his peak
Ferdinand was asked by BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey whether he was making the right decision, to which he replied: “Very much so after last season. This season I really found out it was time to hang the boots up and get back in the house to watch other people play the game.”
Ferdinand began his career with West Ham United in 1996 before earning a move to Leeds United four years later.
After two excellent seasons at Elland Road he was signed by Manchester United for just under £30 million - and it was at Old Trafford where he established his status as one of the best British centre-backs of modern times.
Ferdinand won a host of major honours with the Red Devils, including six Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League, before joining Queens Park Rangers for a season last summer.
He will be remembered as one of the greatest defenders of the Premier League era.
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