Antonio Valencia announces retirement from football


The former Manchester United player, Antonio Valencia has announced his retirement from football aged 35. The Ecuador international who has been decorated with trophies decided to hang up his boots 2 years after leaving the Red Devils where he played for 10 years with a heartfelt message.

Antonio Valencia started playing football at an Ecuadorian club. After 2 years with the youth side, he got promoted to the first team. It was a dream come true for him, given the childhood he endured. He got the rarest of the opportunities to debut alongside his idol Edison Mendez.

His success was far-reaching as he had attracted many Spanish clubs. After 2 years and 88 games with his first club, he bid adieu to them when Villarreal came knocking. In 2005, he moved to the La Liga side. However, he was not able to break into the first team easily. Because of which he was loaned out.

He joined a second-division Spanish team called Recreativo. Villarreal did this so that he gained experience. However, he played a huge role for that team as they went on to get promoted to La Liga by finishing top of their respective league. His brilliant form was noted by the Premier League club, Wigan Athletic.

Soon as he returned from that loan spell, he joined the Premier League side. Initially a year loan, he impressed them in the 17 matches he played, which made them extend it to another year, and eventually buying him permanently.

He became an important part of that team that finished 14th in the League. The club’s boss said that Valencia turned down an offer from Real Madrid. Thanks to that, he joined Manchester United in 2009 after playing at Wigan for only 2 years.

A decade long Manchester United journey for Antonio Valencia:

Valencia joined Manchester United and went on to wear the legendary No.7 shirt after Michael Owen departed from the club in 2012. He used to be a right-winger and it wasn’t until 2013 that he switched his role permanently to right-back and became the best in that position.

He got the perfect start to his United career as he went on to make almost 50 appearances. Although he wasn’t able to live up to the expectations as the Ronaldo replacement, he played a major role in Sir Alex Fergusons final years. His next year was cut short in half after he suffered an ankle injury.

After returning from injury, he regained his regular role in the team featuring in almost every match. By the time Sir Alex left, he won 4 trophies, out of which 2 were Premier League titles. After David Moyes was appointed, he continued in the same position.

However, his transition occurred after Louis van Gaal was appointed. He initially played in both the right flank positions, but the right-back position became the final one after a while of experimentation and he went on to become the best. He also won a couple of trophies under the Dutch coach.

Antonio Valencia’s contract was to end in 2017. However, United triggered the extension which kept him at Old Trafford for another year. Under Jose Mourinho, he was given the captain’s role permanently after Michael Carrick announced his retirement.

In June 2019, he officially ended his decade-long journey at United, making 339 appearances, scoring 25 goals, and lifting 9 trophies in the process. He joined his national club, LDU Quito for free and played for 2 years, and hung his boots after playing 15 matches for the Mexican side Queretaro due to knee problems.

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