- Premier League
Ferdinand upset about departure
Rio Ferdinand said he was denied the opportunity for the send-off he would have liked at after it emerged he would not be kept on by Manchester United.
He did not play in the club's final home game of the season against Hull last week when tributes were paid to his central defensive partner Nemanja Vidic, who is joining Inter Milan, and bowed out at Southampton instead.
There have also been reports that United's executive vice-chairman informed Ferdinand that his contract would not be renewed by the club in the dressing-room at St Mary's.
"Circumstances didn't allow for me to say goodbye the way I would have liked," Ferdinand, who had to release a statement to fans about his future, said. "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.
Ferdinand, will be 36 in November, says he will seek a new challenge elsewhere with a representative confirming that he wants to play on. He has offers to play in America's Major League Soccer, China and the Middle East, reportedly.
The former England captain, who lost his United place under David Moyes and only started nine league games under the Scot, made his 455th and last United appearance in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Southampton.
He said in a statement: "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."
Ferdinand's departure means United are set to start next season without three pillars of their defence from their recent period of success, with Nemanja Vidic on his way to Inter Milan and Patrice Evra also likely to leave as a free agent this summer.
Ferdinand cost United a British record fee of £30 million when he arrived from Leeds in 2002 and went on to win six Premier League titles. He formed a fine partnership with Vidic after the Serb joined in 2006 and they were the cornerstones of a defence that helped them win the Champions League in 2008 and only conceded 24 goals in the 2008-09 league season.
Ferdinand added: "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."
Ferdinand's exit leaves United with three centre-backs from a younger generation - Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones - and could mean their next manager has to sign a replacement.
He said: "I am feeling fit and healthy, ready for a new challenge and looking forward to whatever the future holds for me."