sport

United stars salute Ferdinand

Michael Carrick and his Manchester United team-mates have paid tribute to Rio Ferdinand, who will leave the club in the summer.

Ferdinand announced on Monday his 12-year career at Old Trafford was over and he would follow centre-back partner Nemanja Vidic, a recent recruit at Inter Milan, through the exit door.

The defensive pair have been integral to United's success over the last decade and were involved in the title-winning teams in 2007, 2008 and 2009 with both named in the PFA Team of the Year at the end of each campaign.

Carrick tweeted: "1st Vida now Rio, we've shared so much. Both 2 of the very best defenders of ALL TIME and I don't say that lightly.

"Vida, simply the best out and out defender I've seen. Aggression and desire to win at all costs, scared centre forwards to death!

"Rio, A Rolls Royce, best all round CB, got the lot, defend, quick, composed beyond belief and made those around him better players."

Midfielder Carrick, on the England standby list for the World Cup, was joined in his appreciation of Ferdinand by current and former goalkeepers David de Gea and Edwin van der Sar and winger Ashley Young.

Spaniard De Gea tweeted: "Thanks for everything @rioferdy5 and good luck in your future my friend. It's been a pleasure playing and learning with you! #Legend."

Van der Sar added on Twitter: "Just want to thank @rioferdy5 & Vida for all they have done for me in the success we achieved @ManUtd!#rocksolid."

Young said: "@rioferdy5 honoured to have been your teammate, you'll be missed #legend."

The decision to let Ferdinand go ignores the advice of interim manager Ryan Giggs, who insisted earlier this month the defender could still make a useful contribution and should be offered a new deal.

Former Reds defender Gary Neville appeared to question the move when he wrote on Twitter: "So it looks like Rio and Vida allowed to leave at once!!! A conveyor belt has become a cliff!"