Antonio Valencia has thanked Manchester United’s fans for their undivided support over the last decade as the outgoing captain prepares to go through a “roller coaster of emotions” when donning the red shirt one last time.
The 33-year-old has enjoyed a memorable period at Old Trafford since joining from Wigan in 2009, winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups before captaining the side to Europa League glory.
Valencia has gone from flying winger to marauding full-back during his time at a club he is now saying his goodbyes to ahead of his 339th and final appearance for United in Sunday’s season finale against Cardiff.
“It means the world to me – a roller coaster of emotions from sadness to ecstasy,” Valencia told Press Association Sport ahead of Sunday’s match, when manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is planning a celebratory goodbye.
“Sadness because I have won everything as a player here and will miss these moments.
“They have always supported me even in my darkest days with serious injuries.
“My wife and daughter and closest friends will join me in my final game.
“I hope they enjoy and savour the occasion as much as I do as their commitment and support during the past 10 years was crucial to my success.
“I wish them all the best for the future and that future teams provide you with great victories on the field and as much success as they can muster.”
Valencia has been unable to make an impact at United this season, with the skipper making just one appearance since Solskjaer’s arrival due to injury issues.
“I had two moments that stand out,” Valencia said, reflecting on his decade at United.
“The game versus Bayern Munich in the Champions League (in 2010) and in the 20th minute we were 2-0. It was the most memorable atmosphere I experienced as a player. It was spine-tingling and incredible.
“For a whole month my family and friends kept calling me elated with emotion as they had seen my childhood dreams come finally true.”
But the United chapter of Valencia’s footballing story will not be the last.
He is determined to help Ecuador flourish at this summer’s Copa America and believes there is plenty of gas left in the tank.
“I am just concentrated in the Copa America with my nation,” Valencia added.
“The success of my nation is extremely important to me and crucial as it brought me to this world and gave me the platform to whom I am today.
“This is the only thing in my mind after tomorrow’s final game at Old Trafford.
“After this I will sit down with my family and advisors and give the matter thought as I would like to play for a further two, three years. “