Ex-Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke has heralded Rio Ferdinand as “one of the greats” following the defender’s decision to leave the club after 12 years in a red shirt.
Reacting to the breaking news on Monday night, Yorke said the centre-back will be upheld as a top-calibre example for young defenders to follow after performing at the highest level for so long.
“He has to be one of the greats. He's definitely up there with the very best, he's colossal,” enthused Yorke, who left United in the same summer of 2002 when Ferdinand arrived.
“Over the years not too many strikers have got the better of him. He’s always had that 'Rolls Royce' style - a fantastic defender who’s quick across the ground. He can see a pass, and he always seems to be in total control of the game. He reads the game so well.
“He has been a big asset to Manchester United over the years and he's one of the names that will remain a legend at Old Trafford. Rio can leave the club with his head held extremely high in terms of what he has done and what he has achieved. He’s been an outstanding player there for 12 years.
“The word ‘colossal’ comes into play because that's the kind of player he was for United, he had all the attributes to his game. He's the sort of player that any upcoming defender would want to model himself on because he was so outstanding week in, week out whenever he performed.”
Yorke accepts that replacing Rio and, of course, his central-defensive partner for eight years, Nemanja Vidic, will not be