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Manchester United legend Antonio Valencia retires from football

Antonio Valencia & Roberto Firmino

The end of a glittering career

Manchester United and Ecuador defender Antonio Valencia has announced his retirement from football after almost two decades at the top level.

Valencia, who represented Villareal, Manchester United and Wigan Athletic, ends his career having won two Premier League trophies, as well as three English domestic cups and a Europa League with Manchester United.

The announcement was made during an interview with current club Queretaro, a Mexican club that he only joined in January, and who he has made 14 appearances for.

Forever a Red Devil

Valencia will be remembered most fondly for his time spent at Manchester United, a club that he joined in 2009 for £16m from fellow Premier League side Wigan Athletic. During his time in Manchester, the Ecuadorian made over 300 appearances for the club, performing capably both at right-back and on the right of midfield.

Although Valencia began his career on the wing, under first David Moyes and then Jose Mourinho, the now 35-year-old found himself moved to the right side of the defence, a role in which he excelled. Such were his performances that it led to Mourinho describing him as “the best right-back in the world” at one point.

Renowned for his speed and trickery, he became much more disciplined and defensively aware during his later career. Having been moved to full-back, at the end of Louis Van Gaal’s first season in charge Valencia told the press that:

“It’s been a hard position to learn, but the key is to keep your concentration for the entire 90 minutes. You’ve really got to be on the ball for all that time.”

 

Antonio Valencia

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 13: Antonio Valencia of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on August 13, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Internationally too, Valencia was a firm favourite. Making his Ecuador debut at the age of 19 (during a 1-1 draw with Honduras), he went on to register 98 caps for his country, scoring eleven goals in the process.

It has been a long and illustrious career for Valencia, described by one Manchester United fan as “a model professional for the majority of his time at the club”, and fans will be forever grateful for his performances in the 2011/12 season, which saw him pick up the Matt Busby award for player of the season. Although he only contributed four goals, he provided an astonishing 16 assists from the right-wing, something that he failed to replicate in subsequent seasons.

At 35, however, he has decided to hang up his boots. He will be remembered fondly by fans of all the clubs he represented and remains idolised by people across his home country.

Read more:

Real Madrid begin contract extension talks with Raphael Varane and hope to extend his stay at the Bernabeu

Ecuador vs Bolivia live streaming: Watch international friendly online


This article was edited by Tom Canton.

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