‘Special’ Vieira hangs up his boots

PATRICK VIEIRA has described the end of his playing career as a sad day but is looking forward to taking up a new role off the pitch with Manchester City.

The 35-year-old Frenchman hung up his boots yesterday, 18 years after making his debut for Cannes, in a career that took him to AC Milan, Arsenal, Juventus, Inter and Manchester City and brought World Cup, European Championship, along with Premier League and Serie A successes.

Vieira, released by City at the end of last season, has accepted a newly-created position as the club’s football development executive.

Vieira said: “It was something I was preparing for in my head and I think it was the right time.

“It’s a sad day and a sad moment but overall I’ve enjoyed the years I’ve spent in football.”

Vieira was City boss Roberto Mancini’s first signing when he left Inter to return to the Premier League in January 2010.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described his fellow Frenchman as a “special” player and pledged Arsenal would always remember his contribution to one of the club’s most successful eras.

Vieira joined Arsenal from AC Milan in 1996 and was a key component of the teams which won the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998 and 2002, before as captain he guided the team which became known as the ‘Invincibles’ to another title in 2004.

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