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Rio Ferdinand hangs up his boots
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Rio Ferdinand hangs up his boots

Fola Akintomide

Former England and Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement, ending a 20-year professional career in which the ball-playing defender established himself as one of the top English players of his generation.

The 36-year-old Ferdinand announced his decision on British broadcaster BT Sport on Saturday.

Ferdinand was absent for the closing stages of his final season in football, with Queens Park Rangers, after his wife died on May 1 following a battle with cancer.

Ferdinand became the most expensive English player when he joined United from Leeds for £29.1 million in 2002. He started his professional career at West Ham in 1995.

Ferdinand was released by United last summer after 454 appearances and was signed by QPR, where he struggled to hold down a regular place in a team that ended up getting relegated from the Premier League.