13/05/2014 14:07, Report by Ben Hibbs. Graphic design by Dan James.
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Infographic: The making of Rio

winners' medals. It took just ten months to get his hands on silverware: 2002/03's Premier League title. "It was a relief, really," he has since said. "When you come to United and the club has seen all this amazing success for a decade, you don't want to be a catalyst for that success finishing. It was the league title and I thought I'd never be able to get my hands on it. To be a part of that in my first year set me up for what followed."

Even greater highs would follow, and the undoubted highlight remains lifting the Champions League trophy as captain in Moscow in 2008.

"It was a great moment," he said. "Sir Bobby Charlton came and spoke to me and said a few words about the history of the club. He was telling me to remember the moment, savour the moment. He congratulated me and it meant a lot. Then I went up those steps with Giggsy, someone who's been at the club for so many years and came through the youth set-up; it was just a perfect moment."

Rio was an integral part of the squad throughout his stay at Old Trafford, as an influencer on the pitch and in the dressing room and, while his departure does not afford the farewell his services deserve, he has earned the place in the pantheon of United greats that is undoubtedly reserved for him.

More: Rio calls time | Pics: Rio's Reds journey

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