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Divisive former Manchester United defender announces retirement

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Gabriel Heinze was not remembered all too fondly by United fans for his attempts to engineer a move to arch-rivals Liverpool.

Manchester United's former Argentinian defender Gabriel Heinze has announced his retirement from football, citing the strain on his body as the reason for his decision.

Heinze, who left the following message on his current club Newell's Old Boys website, will hang up his boots for good at the season's end with the club where his 18-year career began.

'Like everything in life, dreams have to end. Being part of the best club in Argentina will always stay in my heart. I want to tell you at the end of this season I will no longer be a player at this club. This time, unfortunately, I can not really ignore my body. 

'I would play all my life in Newell's, but I know I should not be selfish and must demonstrate responsible attitudes and gratitude to an institution that only gave me joy.

'It's time to terminate my contractual relationship with NOB, but I will fulfil my contract and honour my word. And, above all, I will do my best in the months ahead because the institution will always be ahead.

'I hope that the leadership of the club use the money intended to resign the lower divisions, where I feel the future is for Newell's and all associated. That is my wish, expressing my undying loyalty as a fan.

'I send a big hug, Gaby Heinze.'

Heinze made his name at Paris Saint-Germain before transferring to Manchester United in June 2004 for a fee of £6.9m.

He was voted the club's best player for the 2004/2005 season after taking like a duck to water at left-back but his injury problems soon put paid to his first-team status and new signing Patrice Evra soon usurped him in the pecking order.

The Argentine returned to action in the 2006/2007 season and was handed the captaincy for the last two games of the season after winning back a spot in central defence, but soon became disillusioned and demanded a transfer to Liverpool.

That angered Sir Alex Ferguson but it only partially prevented Heinze from getting his wish, with the defender soon heading to Real Madrid.

Spells at Marseille and Roma followed before he headed back home to Newell's for what proved to be a final swansong.

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