Rio Ferdinand has paid a belated tribute to his former rival Sergio Aguero after it was confirmed that he would be leaving Manchester City at the end of the season, bringing to the fore the painful experience of the dramatic final day of the 2011-12 season.
Agüero will leave City as the club’s all-time top scorer, after scoring a remarkable 257 goals in 384 games, but one strike more than the other lingers firmly in his memory as he prepares to lower the curtain for his brilliant career with the Etihad. .
Agüero scored an incredible last-breath winner against QPR in May 2012 on the final day of the season, earning City their first-ever Premier League title in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Argentine striker Sergio Aguero leaves Manchester City at the end of the season
United began to celebrate winning the title on the last day in Sunderland, while City faltered at home against QPR, but Edin Dzeko scored in injury time for Roberto Mancini’s side before Aguero took what turned out to be the famous winner to seal the crown .
And in tribute to the outgoing City forward, Ferdinand revealed that the goal still haunts him to this day, but admitted he has nothing but ‘respect’ for Agüero – hailing him as one of the greatest ever in the Premier. League.
In a tribute on Instagram on Thursday morning, Ferdinand wrote: ‘Agueroooooooooooo! This name, this purpose, this moment still hits me when I least expect it like a bolt from the blue!
“Our closest rivals across town, who snatched the title from our hands. Absolutely knocked out, distraught, devastated … an entire season wrecked in the closing seconds of the last game.
[But] what i will say is that as much as i hated the outcome, i never hated or disliked Sergio before his moment as i thought i would.
Agüero celebrates after taking the title for City in the most dramatic way in May 2012
‘I think how modest and cold he seems plays a big role, but I respect him just as much or more as a footballer. He is one of the hardest strikers I’ve ever marked.
He was direct once he had the ball. As a defender, he always had you on the edge and had to have your total concentration to make sure you knew where he was at all times.
Rivalry was put aside for a moment, Sergio Aguero is without a doubt one of the best PL strikers of all time. [He] snatched the PL trophy from under my nose, but respect when respect is due! Good luck in the future.’
Aguero’s goal against QPR is the club’s most famous moment in their history, and the strike made City one of the greatest forces in the Premier League.
The Argentinian has won four Premier League titles, an FA Cup and five League Cups during his ten-year stay at Etihad.
Rio Ferdinand responds after Aguero snatched the title from United’s reach in 2012
And his boss Pep Guardiola paid a glowing tribute to Aguero on Wednesday, claiming the striker will be ‘irreplaceable’.
“Sergio is irreplaceable,” said the town boss Sky Sports. ‘I could say in numbers that it is replaceable, it is not easy when you see more than 360 games played and more than 250 goals, the number of titles …
So it’s the legend, the best striker this club has ever had in this century over the years, but is irreplaceable in the souls, in the hearts, in the minds of our fans, our people, of the players who are next to played him. and all the managers who worked with him.
‘He’s a wonderful person, human, and I’m pretty sure if his mind is still aggressive like him, he can extend his career beyond maybe two or three or four or five years.
‘He helped us find a club organization at a higher level. When he came here, the club was on one level and he helped bring the club to the next level. And that’s why all the people are still there, and of course the fans will always thank you.
Ferdinand paid great tribute to Agüero and admitted he has nothing but respect for the attacker
‘Without them, what we have achieved over the past four or five years wouldn’t be possible, that’s for sure.
“I think he still has some interesting goals to score this season.”
It is not yet known where Aguero will end up when his City deal expires at the end of the season, but he has been reported to be inundated with offers.
According to French news center Foot Mercatorivals United are one of five clubs to offer the Argentinian forward conditions, with Inter Milan and PSG also in the hunt for his signature.
Sportsmail announced earlier this month that Chelsea are also in the race to sign Agüero, who is keen to stay in the Premier League next season.