Former Manchester United club captain Antonio Valencia has announced his retirement from football at the age of 35.
The former Ecuador international, who won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups, and the Europa League during a 10-year stay at Old Trafford, has called time on his career after returning to his native country.
Valencia began his professional career at home with El Nacional before joining Villarreal in Spain. Then he made his mark in England, firstly with Wigan, before joining Manchester United.
He wrote a statement to Manchester United fans, released via Twitter, which stated:
To Manchester United fans 🔴👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/0HKWscZO9F
— Antonio Valencia (@anto_v25) May 12, 2021
“At the age of 14 as a child, I left my family, my village and my first team to travel to the capital of my country. I travelled with a lot of nostalgia, but full of hope.
“A few years later, I was able to travel to Europe, something I had never dreamed of. I played in Spain and then came to my second home, England.
“Wigan was a unique experience, and then God gave me the opportunity to join Manchester United. I will never forget everything I experienced at Old Trafford. I will never forget every goal, every trophy and the wonderful fans.
“I did not think this moment would come so soon, but my body has asked me to make this decision. I am announcing my retirement from football.
“I want to thank everyone who has been part of my career and my life, God in the first place for always blessing me; Zoila and my daughter Domenik, who have been my pillars; my parents for giving me so much.
“To fans of all the countries where I have played, I always tried to give my best. Thank you for your affection and support.”
Jose Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League with Valencia at United, wrote on Instagram (as quoted via MEN): “Antonio a pleasure to work with you and I wish you all the best.
“You have been a champion and I only have good memories of my captain. 3 cups that you have raised cannot be removed. big hug. JM”
We would like to wish the former Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year a very happy retirement.
Tributes from David de Gea and Rio Ferdinand below:
Congrats for your amazing career! Enjoy your retirement, hermano 🇪🇨
We miss you! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/26ZBoMKqBf
— David de Gea (@D_DeGea) May 12, 2021
What a career, what a player, what a man….One of the most humble men I know. Painfully shy but always made me smile with how shy he was!
What a professional too, always doing extra training in the gym (so he could look like me)
Pleasure to play with you. Enjoy retirement Tonio pic.twitter.com/f3QBxv6C99
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) May 12, 2021
— Manchester United (@ManUtd_Es) May 12, 2021