Manchester United hero Rio Ferdinand has sent a heartfelt message to former team-mate Gerard Pique following his retirement from professional football.
Coming through the ranks of the famed La Masia academy, Pique transferred to Man Utd in 2004 before he could pen a first professional contract at boyhood club Barcelona. Making his debut in the same year, the eventual World Cup winner made just 12 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils with Barcelona stepping in to buy their former prodigy for a cool £5million in 2008.
Unable to displace Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic at the peak of their powers, Pique instead embarked on a trophy-laden career in Catalunya, which Ferdinand has joked he was partly responsible for.
READ MORE: Man Utd to face Barcelona as Europa League play-off round draw is confirmed
"My man, what a career! wrote Ferdinand on Instagram following the final match of Pique's career. "Many people don’t know but I actually played one of the biggest parts in making you.
"The fact that myself and Nemanja were playing at Man Utd you never had a chance….so you had to move on to Barcelona!! That was my part in catapulting you to greatness!!"
Then turning to congratulate Pique on a stellar career, he added: "But seriously, when you went to Barcelona I don’t even think that you could imagine your career would go as crazy as it went – trophies galore with both club and country.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Is Pique the greatest defender of his era? Let us know in the comments section.
"One thing you had to do when you left was mature, you did this so quickly because your intelligence took over. A mainstay in both teams, that many consider the best teams EVER!
"I hear debates about the best CB’s of this era and I don’t see your name enough….. Without you at Barcelona do they play out from the back as smoothly, would they of had the personality in that area in the big moments to take the ball & to be brave….we will never know but you was there doing that year after year – quietly & effectively.
"Respect my man for a truly great career."
After 14 glittering years in Catalunya, claiming eight La Liga titles, seven Copa del Reys and three Champions League trophies, the Barcelona defender played the final match of his career on Saturday (November 5) as Xavi's side sealed a 2-0 win over Almeria to leapfrog arch-rivals Real Madrid to the league summit.
Leaving the field to a standing ovation in the 85th minute, with summer signing Andreas Christensen coming on as his replacement, a tearful Pique lapped up the appreciation from the sold-out capacity crowd inside the Camp Nou before taking a seat for the final few minutes of the match.
Antony's wholesome reaction to World Cup call-up as Liverpool and Arsenal stars miss out
Fans say Cristiano Ronaldo made ‘scared’ Gerard Pique retire before Man Utd reunion
Barcelona boss Xavi laments the 'worst possible' opponents after drawing Man Utd
Source: Read Full Article