Rio Ferdinand retires after being released by QPR

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Former Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand has retired from the game after being released by QPR following the club’s relegation to the Championship.

At the age of 36, Ferdinand retires with 503 Premier League appearances with West Ham, Leeds United, Manchester United, and Queens Park Rangers, 312 of them coming with the Red Devils.

Ferdinand began his career with the West Ham United youth academy, making his professional debut in early 1996 before his $44.5 million transfer from Leeds to Manchester United in 2002 set a then-record for a defender. He would end up on the PFA Team of the Year four times in five years from 2004-2009 and won six Premier League titles while at Old Trafford.

He was released from Manchester United following the expiry of his contract at the end of last season, clearly on the decline. He signed a one-year deal with QPR, but after a slow start to the season he struggled to maintain his place on the team thanks to both poor play and injury. Ferdinand’s final appearance came March 7 in a 2-1 loss to Tottenham.

Ferdinand also earned 81 caps for the England national team, becoming the youngest defender at the time to play for the country at 19 years old in 1997, and starred in the 2002 World Cup as England marched to the quarterfinals before a slim 2-1 loss to eventual champions Brazil.

The London-born defender did not come without controversy. He was banned for eight months through the 2003/04 season for missing a drug test, and there was much turmoil between himself and fellow England international John Terry after the Chelsea man was accused of racially abusing Rio’s brother Anton. Ferdinand earned the captain’s armband for the 2010 World Cup, but found himself injured before the tournament and was replaced by Terry.

Ferdinand was recently hit with sadness as his wife Rebecca Ellison passed away from breast cancer in early May.